Another book from Hot Key. Woohoo!
Jess Vallance’s second book, The Yellow Room, is due out this July. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Hot Key Books, hence why I’m reviewing it here. This is Vallance’s second book; her first, Birdy, was released last year. This has all of the strengths of Birdy: a new friendship, an unsettling closeness, a dramatic ending, a creepy undertone throughout the whole thing, so I was happy. But here’s the thing! The Yellow Room has all the good stuff from Birdy, but it’s also BETTER.
It also doesn’t yet have a full blurb on GoodReads, so I had to type the following out in full, but that’s probably not really worth complaining about.
I was wondering, Anna, if you would meet me?
When Anna receives a letter telling her that her father has died, she finds it hard to feel anything very much. She hasn’t seen him for years and can barely remember him. She certainly has no interest in meeting the person who sent the letter; her dead father’s girlfriend, Edit. Anna has her own problems to deal with, including a secret she desperately needs to keep buried.
When Leon, a creepy boy from school, begins threatening to reveal Anna’s secret, Anna’s life starts spiralling out of control. With her own mother distracted and distant, she finds herself turning to the warm and eccentric Edie for support.
But what Anna doesn’t realise is that Edie has some secrets of her own.
I enjoyed this book. To be honest, I was expecting to. Having read Birdy, and liked that a lot, too, I was going in with raised expectations. Luckily, they were all met. The vaguely unsettling undercurrent which runs through both books is deliciously creepy and really draws you in. I also really enjoyed the setting – a small English seaside town, called Oldcliffe-on-Sea. The two main characters, Anna and Edie, are well-drawn and have a really believable relationship – I remember being fifteen, finding a new friend, and developing that intense connection, feeling like they’re the only person in the world who can help you, and I did that without any dark secrets to keep hidden, or weirdos blackmailing me.
The backstory in this was believable in the way that fifteen year olds see drama in everything – I would’ve probably acted the same way as Anna at the time, so I was behind her in all her actions. The supporting characters -Anna’s parents and friends, and Leon, the creepy blackmailer, were maybe a little thinly drawn, but the main pull of this book was definitely the crackling intensity between Anna and Edie, which, again, I was really impressed by.
The end of the book comes to a crashing close, but doesn’t cut off right after the action. It actually resolves somewhat reasonably and I was left with a feeling of satisfaction, rather than the creeping unease that often follows these kind of thrillers. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I liked that it was resolved nicely, but the whole creepy undercurrent of the book was greatly eased by the final scenes, and I don’t know if that was a good or a bad thing.
Nonetheless! A very enjoyable book, with strong lead characters and an eye-catching (although definitely not eye-pleasing) design.
I also quite liked this behind-the-scenes look at how The Yellow Room was written –