From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.
But when her school nemesis is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.
Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…
One thing I’m finding more and more when I read, when I really like a character, all I want to do is protect them, and each awful thing that befalls them – from something minor to larger events – makes me wish I could just grab them and give them a cwtch. For me, it’s a sign of a well written character when I feel like that, and Kat Ellis achieves that brilliantly here with her main character, Ava.
Ava could have easily come off as a spoiled brat, but Ellis manages to make her a character all readers will relate to. When the book starts, Ava is moving out of her family home, her uncle and aunt unable to maintain the upkeep on the manor that has been in the family for generations. The home of the ‘Bloody Thorns’ is purchased by the same family they have had an ongoing feud with for so long no one can really remember the cause.
Here’s the thing that sticks out to me. Ava goes through A LOT right at the start of the novel. She’s still dealing with her parents’ death a year before, and as she tries to adjust to a new life, her best friend appears to be taking steps to deliberately upset her. Throughout all this, Ava is convinced she’s seen the manor’s resident ghost, Dead Eyed Sadie, who Thorns usually see right before they die. As in Harrow Lake, Kat Ellis blurs the line between reality and fantasy, giving us characters who think they can see the whole picture before they really do. It’s a technique that works well, and makes for fantastic POV throughout the book, as we try to see what Ava can’t, or as we discover there are some things she misunderstands.
I really liked the supporting cast here, too, and the various characters really made this feel like a town, rather than just the place where the story is set. There are nice little quirks, too, like the drawings of evil eyes throughout the town, or how the whole town seems to believe in Dead Eyed Sadie.
Ava has a life outside the plot, with a part time job, friends and school, and there’s a sense of the ‘real life’ and the events of the novel almost intruding on one another, neither allowing Ava to devote her full concentration to one or the other. It makes for a good balance, with a romance adding to that sense, too. The romance in this book was sweet and written well, and I really enjoyed those scenes, as they also served as a reminder – like the rest of her life – that Ava really is just a teenage girl trying to handle a deadly, complicated situation.
Ellis has done an excellent job here, giving us a vivid, real setting, teenagers still trying to figure out their place in the world, and a sympathetic, flawed protagonist who many YA readers will relate to. There’s even a reference to the events of Harrow Lake, and it works really well. Wicked Little Deeds is a great read, reminding me in parts of Fear Street, Riverdale, and The Haunting Of… series, and it deserves to have an adaptation of its own.
I absolutely loved this book. Ellis is great at creating a dark atmosphere, and Wicked Little Deeds draws you in instantly, keeping the reader hooked with the characters and effective build up of tension. If you enjoy Horror, this is going to be a book you’ll want to pick up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kat Ellis is a young adult author whose novels include Wicked Little Deeds/Burden Falls (August 2021), Harrow Lake (July 2020), Purge (September 2016), Breaker (May 2016), and Blackfin Sky (May 2014). She is a fan of all things horror and sci-fi, and a keen explorer of ruins, castles and cemeteries – all of which are plentiful in North Wales, where Kat lives with her husband.
You can find out more about Kat at http://www.katelliswrites.com or connect with her on social media.