intriguing YA thriller (SSD)

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SECRETS SO DEEP is an intriguing YA thriller. Avril has been selected to join a prestigious theatre camp on the beach in Connecticut. This particular place is one she has wanted to return to, as it was the place where her mother died when she was 5 - and where she nearly died as well. Avril has no memories of the time before she washed up on shore, but she is hopeful that she will find them once she is there.

The camp is run by her mother's best friend, Willa, who wrote a play that won a lot of awards and which they will be performing. At the auditions, Avril is embodying the character so much that Willa recognizes her as April, her mother's daughter. As Avril begins to navigate this world and her co-stars, particularly Willa's son Cole who is playing the male lead alongside her, she learns more about her mother and the darkness of human nature than she ever could have imagined.

What I loved: This is a really intriguing read with some mythology attached to it, as the town has rumors of the whispers luring women into the sea, assuming her mother was taken in this manner. The mystery of what happened to Avril and her mother really drives the story with so many characters having stayed in this one place for so long, and the summer her mother spent there had quite an impact on all of them. Some of them are obvious and less obvious red herrings, but the really weight of the story is in who her mother was and the way she begins to connect with her through the stories she left behind.

Avril is a compelling character - born to be in the theatre and desperate to know more about the mother she lost. Her own past has holes in it as she is unable to remember what happened or anything before the day she washed up on shore. The romance was strong between her and Cole, with their pasts feeding into the present, and the bond quickly formed as they spend time and investigate together. The ending still includes some surprises and twists, though some of the reveals had become apparent early in the story, and the pace of the end was just right with reveals coming slowly at first before becoming faster.

The story also deals with some heavy themes around mental illness, assault, and negligence, as well as the lure of power and prestige and what the promise of that can drive people towards.

What left me wanting more: The book has a slow pace for the brunt of it, and it almost feels like a regular summer camp book until the ending parts where the secrets begin to unravel. The thriller atmosphere was not quite there for me except for a few sparse scenes, so it didn't have immersive/page-turning feel. The supernatural elements also felt a bit underdeveloped, as there seemed to be a lot of promise there that was not fully realized.

Final verdict: Overall, SECRETS SO DEEP was an intriguing YA thriller that will work best for readers who enjoy books about summer camp with a hint of a mystery/thriller.

Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.