ARC Review: Relic

Relic by Gretchen McNeil
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For Annie Kramer, the summer before college is bittersweet—both a last hurrah of freedom and the last days she’ll spend with her boyfriend, Jack, before they head off to different colleges. So she and her friends plan one final adventure: a houseboating trip on Shasta Lake, complete with booze, romance . . . and an off-limits exploration of the notorious Bull Valley Mine.

The legends of mysterious lights and missing persons on Shasta Lake have been a staple of sleepovers and campouts since Annie was a kid. Full of decrepit bridges that lead to nowhere, railroad tunnels that disappear into the mountains, and terrifying stories of unexplained deaths and bodies that were never recovered, Bull Valley Mine is notorious and frightening—perfect for an epic conclusion to their high school lives.

The trip is fun and light—at first. But when a deranged stranger stumbles upon their campsite, spouting terrifying warnings and pleas for help, it’s clear that everyone is in danger. And when their exploration of the mine goes horribly wrong, Annie and her friends quickly discover that the menace of Bull Valley Mine doesn’t stay at Shasta Lake—it follows them home. As one by one her friends fall victim to this mysterious and violent force, Annie must do whatever it takes to discover the ancient secrets of the mine and save her friends . . . if she’s not already too late.

When I first read the blurb, I thought it was a slasher-fic with some cursed object or something, and I was close to that. It has mystery, horror and gore, coupled with great writing and a good plot. I should also mention that I was actually scared to read the horror parts in the dark; it was terrifying how realistic the writing was. While the main aspect is the mystery of the mine itself and how the group goes about solving it, the horror part of the book reigns supreme. Once you figure out the mystery, it becomes predictable, but the real enjoyment is in how the book renders itself in your head. And even though I thought slashers are cliches in movies, it works really well as a mystery book. Only issue is, there is not much character development, what with the gruesome death toll of the book. Not for the faint-hearted, but it has to be experienced simply for the horror.

Received a free galley from Epic Reads Impulse, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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