cover image Clever Creatures of the Night

Clever Creatures of the Night

Samantha Mabry. Algonquin, $18.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-61620-897-4

A determined teen dealing with PTSD and drug dependency searches the woods of rural Texas for her missing best friend in this ticking-clock thriller from Mabry (Tigers Not Daughters). Latinx high school graduate Case Lopez has been recovering from a traumatic house fire in which she nearly died, which has kept her away from her best friend, Andrea Soto, also Latinx. When she finally gets to visit Drea’s house, where she lives with fellow teens at the edge of a sinister forest, Drea is nowhere to be found. Worse, Drea’s roommates refuse to answer questions concerning her whereabouts, prompting suspicion from Case, who’s certain that they’re hiding something. With no cell service and feeling isolated, Case works to unravel the mystery of Drea’s disappearance before she winds up missing as well. A stagnant plot and lackluster character development driven by terse conversation and meandering action stymie the anticipatory urgency of the 24-hour premise. Still, the evocative setting—complete with eerie woods, a claustrophobic mountain landscape, and the sudden appearance of aggressive animals—ups the tension of this jam-packed read, which somewhat clumsily juggles lightheartedness and disturbing happenings and stars a heroine worth rooting for. Ages 14–up. Agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler, Regal Hoffman and Associates. (Mar.)