Monday, 14 February 2011

Book Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann.

Product details:
Publisher: Simon Pulse.
Hardcover, 240 pages.
Release date: February 8th 2011.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab.

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

A lot of my teenage reading centered around scary Stephen King books, and their small-town settings. Since then, I've always been drawn to books of this type, as those seemingly innocent small towns often seem to hold some deep, dark, twisted secrets. That's why, having never before read anything by Lisa McMann, I decided to pick up this book. Well, that, and the accompanying trailer. Have you seen it? It's seriously scary! I will say, that although the book contains some creepy and disturbing scenes, it didn't horrify me like I thought it would after I viewed that trailer. Nonetheless, this book is worth picking up. For maximum scares and general creepiness I suggest you read it very late at night, when the wind is howling outside, and you're home alone!

The town of Cryer's Cross is small, and when I say small, I mean tiny. It has a population of just 212, and the school which OCD sufferer Kendall Fletcher attends consists of just one classroom, where all the students congregate for class. McMann opens Cryer's Cross with the whole town in shock over the disappearance of a teenage girl, Tiffany Quinn. It's one of those towns where absolutely nothing ever happens, so this is a huge deal, and as the days go by, Tiffany is nowhere to be found. Soon enough, as people do, the Cryer's Cross townsfolk start getting back into their usual routines. Kendall is settling back into school, hanging out with her boyfriend, who she doesn't really like to call a boyfriend, Nico, and getting to know two new kids at school, Jacien and Marlena. Everything is going just fine, apart from Jacien's bad attitude, when Nico suddenly starts exhibiting some strange behaviour, and then he disappears too...

I was immediately involved in this story. McMann has an engaging writing style, and this kept me reading late into the night. It's a quick read, and a fast paced book that demands to be read in one sitting. I loved the setting of Cryer's Cross. The town is tiny and isolated, and a claustrophobic feel pervades the story because of this. If you grew up in a small town you'll know the feeling. As a teenager in a small town, I felt like I would never get out of there, and McMann handles these feelings of seclusion and isolation well. The inclusion of strange, cryptic messages from the unknown 'We' and 'Us' between chapters adds a truly creepy element to events. Who are these messages coming from and what do they mean? Honestly, I didn't figure out the meaning behind these messages until very near the end of the book, and they definitely left me feeling unsettled. There are all kinds of strange happenings going on in Cryer's Cross, and you just know that something really disturbing is lying behind these strange disappearances.

Although it's a short book, I also really warmed to the characters here. I cared about what happened to Kendall, and I definitely felt for her towards the end of the book when she experienced one of my worst nightmares. That scene definitely gave me shivers! There's also a little romance here as Kendall forms a connection with Jacien. There is a lot of tension between those two and an attraction which simmers under the surface.

Combining elements of the paranormal with a psychological edge, McMann delivers a riveting read which is difficult to put down. This one delves into the history of the town of Cryer's Cross and for a small town it has a pretty disturbing past. It's always interesting to see what secrets small towns hold, and in this respect Cryer's Cross doesn't disappoint! I've read a lot of horror and so, while this one didn't totally scare me, it definitely gave me some chills. Check it out if you'd like to be spooked too!


  1. I finished this one last week and agree that it was a quick read that was engaging. Though it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, it definitely had some chilling parts.

  2. Great review. I am not a fan of being spooked so I think I am going to skip this one .

  3. I love spooky books with a psychological edge. Cryer's Cross sounds good for a one time read.
    Thanks for the review!

  4. I definitely like both creepy and psychological thrillers, and this book is one I am very anxious to read. I also like the fact that you mentioned warmed to the characters, because I think that also helps with the scary parts. Great review!

  5. I always love reading your reviews Leanna, I always get a good feel for the book and for the characters. This one does sound very creepy, and I'm always interested in stories about small towns having grown up in one:) Glad to know even though it's short, the characters are well developed. I might have to put this one on my list!

  6. This one sounds so creepy!! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Great review! I love creepy! I’ll have to check this one out soon.

  8. Oh ~ what a succinct review, i got a real feel for this book from what you shared.

    I think I'm going to wait for my library to get this one in :) Mainly as it's not my fave genre. I DO like the cover though ~ it seems to match the vibe...

    and THAK YOU so muahc for your LOVELY get well comment on my blog! Made me smile :) Am SO MUCH better now (but still on bed rest until March (!)

    Have missed visiting your blog :(

    have a brilliant weekend!

    xo Nomes

  9. It does sound kinda creepy. I've been dying to read a real suspense for a while. I'll have to give this one a shot!

    Best Reviews for MD Locksmith


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