The Horror Honeys: Haunted Archives: Save Yourself

Haunted Archives: Save Yourself

A Hardcover Honey Haunted Archive Entry - by Jocelyn

Save Yourself - Kelly Braffet

I rate every book I read over at using their 1-5 star rating system, but I rarely take the time to write a review at that site. In this case of this week's book, I made an exception, because I've finally determined what (for me) qualifies as a five-star book. And in fact, I am going to have to go back and retroactively rate some others five stars now that I realize it (Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objectsand Dark Places, Sara Gran's Come Closer, Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper.)

A five-star book is one I stay up way past my bedtime to finish, one I will be thinking about long after it's over, with characters I will remember years from now, situations that make my heart race as if I am standing nearby watching these fragile, damaged people make the choices they feel they have to make.  Kelly Braffet's new book, Save Yourself, qualifies.

Focusing on Patrick Cusimano, a small-town convenience store night shift loner with a heavy-drinking older brother and a father in jail for a horrible crime, the story quickly grows to include his brother's live-in girlfriend Caro, who's been a little nice to Patrick lately than she meant to be - and they are both now struggling with the ramifications. Patrick has also acquired an unexpected groupie in the form of goth-y teenager Layla Elshere, daughter of a local prayer-group leader. Layla herself is struggling to shed her former identity as the perfect "preacher's daughter" - but will she go too far in the other direction as she tries to rid herself of her good-girl reputation? Spoiler alert - yes. Make that "hell, yes."

Layla's little sister Verna is still a God-fearing daughter-bot, but when high school becomes a living hell for her, she tries to escape by joining her older sister's group of freakshow friends, including charismatic Justin, who has renamed himself "Justinian" - and who encourages his acolytes in ever-more-destructive behavior.

Hardcover Honey Verdict: Kelly Braffet's characters carom off of each other as the tension ratchets up on its way to the explosive conclusion. Five desperate daughters out of five. You won't soon forget this one.