"Since the dogs began going missing, wandering the fields after dusk was frowned upon. Even before then, we had stayed away from the woods. There were stories."
Rituals, secrets and superstitions. Rowan's Glen is full of them. And sixteen-year-old Ivy Templeton knows them all, from the whispered stories of the murderous Birch Markle, who supposedly still haunts the woods, to knowing how to protect against the evil eye with a bit of red thread. Her cousin, beautiful and free-spirited Heather, on the other hand, scoffs at all the old ways. But she has secrets of her own, things she won't even tell Ivy. Then, on May Day, Heather goes missing. Ivy feels guilty for not doing something more to keep Heather safe; she's also determined to find out what really happened to Heather, though she fears that it was Birch Markle, and that he will be coming for her next.
"The worst predators of all were humans."
Have you ever read a novel where the main character freezes up when she needs to run, even when someone's tugging at her hand? Or who's a bit too passive when she needs to speak up and be more proactive? Or whose mind is always drifting off? Ivy does all of those things. Fortunately, not all of the time. I liked her, but I also found her frustrating. But then, this YA mystery was an uneven read all around. It has several good moments of suspense, Ivy's friend Rook is very likable, and I loved the atmospheric setting and all the Ozark superstitions; but the mystery itself got muddied and overly complicated at the end. And there were too many characters with big secrets that I felt were revealed all at once. So despite the intriguing premise, this one wasn't as compelling or as good as it could have been. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.