cover image The Return of Ellie Black

The Return of Ellie Black

Emiko Jean. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-6680-2393-8

YA bestseller Jean (Tokyo Ever After) makes a smooth transition to adult fiction with this atmospheric and surprise-packed thriller. Missing and presumed dead for two years, Washington State teenager Ellie Black is discovered alive one night, wandering out of the forest near the small town of Coldwell Beach. Det. Chelsey Calhoun is assigned to the case, and has the dazed, underweight Ellie admitted to the hospital while she convenes with the traumatized girl’s family. At first, the news thrills Ellie’s parents. Soon, however, Ellie starts behaving strangely; without warning, she stops cooperating with the investigation, refusing to answer Chelsey’s questions about where she’s been. When Chelsey has the bloody sweatshirt Ellie was wearing when was found analyzed, the DNA turns out to match a different missing person. All the while, Chelsey muses on how Ellie’s case might be linked to her own sister’s decades-old disappearance. Is there something sinister lurking in the woods outside of Coldwell Beach? Jean deftly alternates Chelsey and Ellie’s perspectives from one cliffhanger to the next, keeping the pages flying. With shocking twists and style to spare, this confirms Jean as a writer worth seeking out. (May)