cover image Primal Animals

Primal Animals

Julia Lynn Rubin. Wednesday, $19.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-2507-5729-6

Musician Arlee Gold, 16, is spending the summer at elite Camp Rockaway, three hours away from her hometown of Raleigh. Experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations and entomophobia, and obsessed with pleasing her demanding mother, Arlee hopes for a fresh start. Despite vague but ominous rumors about her mother’s own time at Rockaway, her summer begins promisingly. She’s invited to join a secret horse-girl sisterhood, the Order of Equus, where she finds solace as well as love and support; at the same time, she starts falling for her witty bunkmate Winnie. But as the Order’s mission to “protect” the camp’s girls grows threatening, Arlee’s summer becomes a fight for her mental stability—and perhaps her life. Though the wonderfully creepy sisterhood remains underexplored, raising more questions than answers, Rubin (Trouble Girls) never sensationalizes Arlee’s mental illness, and her healthy bond with her bunkmates, including trans guitarist Ginger and Jane, a Black daughter of politicians (other major characters read as white), provides an excellent foil to the Order’s toxicity. A consistently unsettling, atmospheric read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Lauren Spieller, Triada US. (May)