Don’t Tell a Soul

Delacorte. Jan. 2021. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525581208.
Gr 9 Up–Miller’s spooky gothic mystery starts with Bram, a white teen girl, plowing through a blizzard on a train. She’s on her way to her uncle’s expansive manor in Louth, a town along the Hudson River. Bram is escaping a bad situation in New York City, but it soon becomes apparent she has left one complicated misery for another. Stories about “dead girls” have haunted the manor for ages, and the fates of these young women seem to be tied up in strong community distrust of the gentrifying behavior of visitors and transplants from the city. Miller sets an effective gothic vibe: a creepy old house, town legends that are not what they seem, and things that go bump in the night. Family, townsfolk, house staff, and potential allies lurk around, giving Bram bits of information as she tries to get to the bottom of what happened to the dead girls and how it might be tied to her own family tragedies. It is clear that Bram is in danger in Louth, but no one will tell her why, and from whom, and that is the strength of this novel. Both the “what is happening,” and “who can you trust” suspense is tight until the very end. Bram has been through a lot (repressed memories of trauma around family death, addiction, sexual assault), and has not had a lot of support, and Miller has a lot to say about how much easier it is for society to paint an unhappy woman as “crazy” instead of listening to her.
VERDICT A spooky, satisfying mystery.

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