Bad Things Happen Here
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published June 28, 2022
About Bad Things Happen Here
I KILLED ZOE SPANOS meets THE CHEERLEADERS in this haunting mystery about an island town with a history of unsolved deaths—and a girl desperate to uncover the mystery behind it all.
Luca Laine Thomas lives on a cursed island. To the outside world, Parris is an exclusive, idyllic escape accessible only to the one percent. There’s nothing idyllic about its history, though, scattered with the unsolved deaths of young women—deaths Parris society happily ignores to maintain its polished veneer. But Luca can’t ignore them. Not when the curse that took them killed her best friend, Polly, three years ago. Not when she feels the curse lingering nearby, ready to take her next.
When Luca comes home to police cars outside her house, she knows the curse has visited once again. Except this time, it came for Whitney, her sister. Luca decides to take the investigation of Whitney’s death into her own hands. But as a shocking betrayal rocks Luca’s world, the identity Whitney’s killer isn’t the only truth Luca seeks. And by the time she finds what she’s looking for, Luca will come face to face with the curse she’s been running from her whole life.
I own a couple other books by Rebecca Barrow, but BAD THINGS HAPPEN HERE is the first one I’ve ever read. Right away, I felt hooked into the story. The relationship between Luca and Whitney is so real. I loved the small town, closed circle feel of the group of friends they shared.
As Luca learns that everyone has been keeping secrets, my interest in the story only deepened. I kept coming up with my own theories of what happened and then hanging on as the story pivoted new directions. I couldn’t stop reading. Things happened so fast that I kept wanting to read one more chapter all the way until the very end.
I have thoughts about the end, but I don’t want to give anything away. I think I can safely say that the way it ended felt both true to the character and also not what I expected. It both closed the story and yet left me yearning for more in a good way.
I think it’s hard to tell a story from the perspective of a narrator like Luca, someone who’s grappling with so much grief and betrayal and trauma and not only keep them an engaging narrator but walk the balance between them doing things that feel totally in character but also give the reader the experience we need from a story– to feel like there’s some growth and conclusion. Rebecca Barrow does both and does it all beautifully. I loved this book and can’t wait to read other books she’s written.
Recommended for Ages 16 up.
Luca is Black and Latinx. She’s also a lesbian and deals with some mental health issues.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.
Kissing between two girls. One scene briefly shows masturbation.
Luca believes there’s a curse on her island that’s causing girls to die.
References to sexual assault and murder. One murder happens on scene. Luca briefly describes seeing the bodies of two people after they were found murdered.
Luca drinks alcohol with her friends. References to smoking pot. Some characters have a history of using hard drugs.
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