Clever Creatures of the Night

Algonquin. Mar. 2024. 240p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781616208974.
Gr 9 Up–Case travels back to her hometown in rural Texas to reconnect with her old friend Drea before heading to her first year of college. When she arrives at the isolated house, she meets Drea’s mysterious roommates: Kendall, her younger sister Steph, and Troy. After a volcanic eruption decimated much of the town, Drea was invited by her roommates to stay at the house. The first sign that something is wrong—Drea is nowhere to be found. According to Troy (Drea’s love interest from the letters she wrote to Case), Drea moved out a few days ago. But why would she invite a friend to visit if she didn’t plan to stick around? And why wouldn’t Drea tell anyone where she was going? Case only has one night to learn all she can about her missing friend, searching the house for clues and trying to glean information from the tight-lipped roommates. Mabry’s unique, twisted, literary thriller is packed with brutally honest depictions of the violence of nature and the cycle of life and death. Drea is of Guatemalan descent and Case is described as a “minority,” while most other characters cue as white. Throughout this artfully crafted novel, Case explores past trauma, which bonded her to her friend—a fire in which Drea made it out unscathed and Case did not.
VERDICT An honest depiction of young adults trying to find their place in the world, recommended for teens who love poetic language and endings that leave them craving more.

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