Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: YA Mystery
Trigger Warning: death, self harm, suicidal ideation, racism, anxiety, sexual violence, depression
I picked Bad Things Happen Here up on a whim the day after I was approved for an ARC on Netgalley and I didn’t put it down until I was finished. Something about this book completely sucked me and I was instantly awed by Barrow’s writing. The story follows recent high school graduate Luca who is convinced that the island she lives on is cursed. Three years ago her best friend was killed and now something devastating also destroys Luca’s life. (Another reason I’m glad I usually don’t read synopsis’s since this “something” is revealed in the summary for the book.) But these recent deaths aren’t the only ones that haunt the island that Luca lives on and she is determined to solve the curse before it can take her too.
The setting of this book was fantastic. The creepy island vibes where you aren’t ever sure if things are as they seem. And the curse element was important to both the story and to Luca. I love how the curse was always just hiding under the surface and how it affected the people of the island. The characters were all flawed and imperfect which made them feel incredibly realistic. I also love the way Barrow dealt with Luca’s complex feelings about her gayness and how it helped form the story.
Beyond being a compelling mystery this was a well done coming of age contemporary that I swiftly fell in love with. I read this book a month ago and I still think about the ending. Which, by the way, might have been a bit over the top but also perfect.