Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: Pretty Dead Queens
Author: Alexa Donne
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: Filipino American Lesbian character, Lesbian character, Filipino American character, Indigenous character, Bisexual characters, Achillean romance between two side characters
Recommended For…: young adult readers, mystery, thriller, prom, unsolved murders
Publication Date: October 7, 2022
Genre: YA Mystery Thriller
Age Relevance: 15+ (death, cancer, grief, animal death, animal gore, language, drugs, gore, classism, racism, homophobia, murder, child abuse, sexual content, sexual assault of a minor, violence)
Explanation of Above: There is death and murder shown in the book and mentioned. There are mentions of cancer and grief is shown in the book. There is two animal deaths (rabbit and dog) and animal gore (rabbit) mentioned in the book. There is some cursing in the book. Drugs are mentioned briefly in the book. There is some violence with knives and gore with blood. There is classism, racism, and homophobia shown and mentioned in the book. Child abuse is mentioned and sexual assault of a minor is vaguely mentioned in the book (there is an adult character in the book who is having a relationship with a child under 18 but nothing explicit is shown). There is also some sexual content mentioned and one fade to black sex scene.
Synopsis: After the death of her mom (screw cancer), seventeen-year-old Cecelia Ellis goes to live with her estranged grandmother, a celebrated author whose Victorian mansion is as creepy as the murder mysteries she writes. On the surface, life is utterly ordinary in the California coastal town . . . until the homecoming queen is murdered. And she’s not Seaview’s first pretty dead queen.
With a copycat killer on the loose, Cecelia throws herself into the investigation, determined to crack the case like the heroines in her grandmother’s books. But the more Cecelia digs into the town’s secrets, the more she worries that her own mystery might not have a storybook ending.
Review: For the most part I really loved this book! The book was a great thriller mystery novel about past murders and a current killer. There’s a lot of twist and turns and it’ll keep you guessing on the whodunit for the longest time. It definitely has a Karen McManus feel to it and one of my newer favorite mystery books. I loved all of the funny pop culture moments as well. The character development was well done and the world building was great. I loved the writing and I had 2/3 overall guesses come true, which surprised me as I’m usually able to accurately guess the end of mystery books.
The only issue I had with the book is that I feel like the planting evidence on a Filipino character should have been called out a bit more for what it was and condemned more. I also feel like the book had some confusing moments that could be cleared up a little bit.
Verdict: I loved this one!