Horror Mystery

The Dead and the Dark – Courtney Gould

17 September 2021
The Dead and the Dark Book Cover The Dead and the Dark
Courtney Gould
Young Adult Fiction
Wednesday Books
3 August 2021

"Imagine Riverdale crossing streams with Stephen King's The Outsider and you'll get a sense of this gripping supernatural mystery...Gould's debut begins as a snappy paranormal yarn and unspools into a profound story about the complex interplay between grief, guilt, and identity." - Oprah Daily Courtney Gould’s thrilling YA debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places—and people—you didn’t expect. The Dark has been waiting—and it won't stay hidden any longer. Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just come to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV's ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before. But the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there's more than ghosts plaguing this small town. Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his ghost following her ever since. Although everyone shuns the Ortiz-Woodleys, the mysterious Logan may be the only person who can help Ashley get some answers. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness


After reading the cover description, I thought this would be interesting as an audiobook – and what a great call I made. Courtney Gould’s debut novel, The Dead and the Dark is a wonderful atmospheric supernatural mystery that exposes people’s nature and truths of the past.

The Dark is more than the shadows, the Dark is a presence that has existed through the ages in Snakebite, Oregon. “The Dark has been waiting—and it won’t stay hidden any longer.” The stealth of the dark seeks a new home, and where it finds a place to inhabit, no one will know, but the consequences will be devastating.

Logan arrives in Snakebite with her two fathers: Alejo Ortiz and Brandon Woodley, famous TV ghost hunters. While Logan feels this is another stop on their ghost hunting adventures, it means much more to Alejo and Brandon as they grew up, met each other, and fell in love in Snakebite. It may be an isolated town, where residents are generally suspicious of newcomers. Still, there is a more profound sense of unease and an ominous evil now that the Ortiz-Woodley family are in Snakebite.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend, Tristan, goes missing and many feel the unwelcome visitors have some part to play in this. Logan is threatened and warned out of town by a group of teenagers. Ashley receives ghostly visions of Tristan, where he’s lost and wants help to get home, but a sinister force has an evil intent that the suffering is just beginning. Ashley and Logan form an unlikely partnership as they search for Tristan and understand what is happening, especially when more teenagers go missing.

The Dead and the Dark has many hidden secrets, but fundamental is discovering if Alejo and Brandon are the precursors of evil or the town’s saviours. Logan also suspects that her fathers are keeping something from her. With the most unlikely ally in Ashley, they form a very close bond as they search for answers and the dead.

I enjoyed the plot and many twists, but the ending seemed slightly unconvincing and didn’t quite match the level of menace that permeated most of the story. Logan is a fantastic character that generates excellent empathy as she has grown up alone, with two fathers heavily involved with paranormal encounters, and specifically a very distant relationship with Brandon. She is constantly moving and missing normal childhood friendships, but still reaches out a hand of friendship where she can.

I listened to the audiobook version, and the scenes where the atmosphere went dark, the narrator, Soneela Nankani, was excellent in conveying the menace. I would recommend this book, and while it fits in the horror genre, it feels more appropriately defined as young adult horror. I want to thank Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

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