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The Telling

Review

The Telling

Somewhere along Lana McBrook's 17 years, something went wrong. After all, she wasn't always a social pariah, dreaming of escape from posh Gant Island, resigned to whatever jeers her school's social demigods might throw at her. In fact, before her then 12-year-old classmates deemed her Uni-Boob, she'd even dared to imagine herself as Lana the Brave. From prowling along Gant's rocky shoreline to slaughtering the villains in stepbrother Ben's blood-soaked fairy tales, Lana the Brave brimmed with courage and an almost animal fierceness.

"The gradual, almost coy delve into Lana's past anchors THE TELLING through the jolts and jerks of its plot....Alexandra Sirowy whirls good and evil, savior and nemesis into one dizzying thrill ride."

So after Ben meets his own gruesome end, Lana renounces the meek girl she's grown into. She vows to reclaim her nerve, her courage, her fierceness. Before long she's plunging off cliffs, roasting marshmallows on the beach and basking in all the exhilaration and glamor of Gant High's social elite.

But as more and more teens turn up dead, a pattern emerges from the throngs of mourners and island-wide gush of adrenaline. The murders echo Ben's stories, reconstructing the fairy tales in the world's goriest diorama.

The killer's a villain, that's for sure --- and now it's up to Lana the Brave to slaughter him.

For your own good, slog through THE TELLING's sluggish first chapter (let's be honest: no one expects the heroine to die in a cliff-diving accident before we even learn her last name). By the time Lana discovers a corpse on page 13, the plot's already unfurling --- a metaphorical rollercoaster already careening downhill. Be forewarned, Sirowy drenches her thriller in red herrings with all the gleeful abandon of an ice cream-lover flinging sprinkles on a sundae. Lucky for me (and for you, future THE TELLING fans!), however, the gradual, almost coy delve into Lana's past anchors THE TELLING through the jolts and jerks of its plot. By turns enigmatic, arrogant, and self-righteous, Lana will frustrate you. I wouldn't put it past her to infuriate.

But rage beats boredom every time, and one thing Lana will never, ever do is bore you.

True, stereotypes bog down a few supporting characters --- Rusty is little more than crass teen humor personified --- but mean girl Carolynn and frat boy-in-training Duncan transcend their labels as the novel unfolds. Sirowy festoons her prose with metaphor; sometimes piercing, sometimes soggy, this figurative language always hints at Lana's iffy grip on reality.

From a heroine delighting in a killing spree (but she's not the murderer, I swear!) to villains oozing charm to all the damaged, desperate human beings caught somewhere in between, Alexandra Sirowy whirls good and evil, savior and nemesis into one dizzying thrill ride.

Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board Member on August 15, 2016

The Telling
by Alexandra Sirowy