Book Reviews

Review: Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: racism, grief, anxiety, self-harm thoughts

I was instantly fascinated by Bad Things Happen Here. The mystery propels the story. We are rooting for Luca to figure out what happened to her sister. Already reeling from the grief of losing her best friend, this latest loss is just too much. The first chapter – especially as it chats about grief – is haunting. How people around you feel like they’ve moved on, won’t talk about the thing that you can’t stop remembering in old bruises and paper cuts. But as Luca tries to find out what happened, she realizes there’s more that she doesn’t know about Whitney than she thought.

So Bad Things Happen Here becomes impossible to put down as Luca becomes her own detective. There’s also this subtle line of unreliability, especially as lies and secrets are revealed. As these pieces of chipped off paint fall down from the ceiling. The danger behind the decadence. Unraveling a rats nest of lies and deceptions, truths we can’t bear to say aloud. All the secrets that come out when a person dies. Don’t even get me started on how clever it was how Barrow keeps bringing up the book’s title.

Playing with this idea that “bad things happen here”, despite everyone trying to cover up, behind the swift spread of secrets. Because what is often a ghost of that sentiment is this idea that, “things like that never happen here”. How the places we live, the climate of our home, molds us into people born of images and perceptions, houses of cards ready to topple. And Barrow plays with this juxtaposition so well in Bad Things Happen Here.

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Ultimately if you love a YA Mystery and you love a good queer romance story line as well – you have to read Bad Things Happen Here. It’s about the things we never thought would happen which become real, like a fun hour mirror. Bad Things Happen Here is also about realizing when we have to let go, to have the bravery to see people for who they are, to root out the lies and deception. Find Bad Things Happen Here on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite thriller with a sister relationship in it?

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