I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Jackal by Erin E. Adams
Published by Random House Publishing Group on October 4, 2022
Genres: Fiction / African American & Black / Mystery & Detective, Fiction / Horror, Fiction / Thrillers / Supernatural
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A young Black girl goes missing in the woods outside her white rust belt town. But she's not the first—and she may not be the last. . . .
“I read this thriller that is Get Out meets The Vanishing Half in one night.”—BuzzFeed
“Extraordinary . . . A terrifying tale of fears and hatreds generated by racism and class inequality.”—Associated Press
A PHENOMENAL BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Publishers Weekly
Liz Rocher is coming home . . . reluctantly. As a Black woman, Liz doesn’t exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward, passive-aggressive reunions. Liz has grown, though; she can handle whatever awaits her. But on the day of the wedding, somewhere between dancing and dessert, the couple’s daughter, Caroline, disappears—and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood.
As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern: A summer night. A missing girl. A party in the woods. She’s seen this before. Keisha Woodson, the only other Black girl in Liz’s high school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart removed. Liz shudders at the thought that it could have been her, and now, with Caroline missing, it can’t be a coincidence. As Liz starts to dig through the town’s history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls.
It’s your turn.
With the evil in the forest creeping closer, Liz knows what she must do: find Caroline, or be entirely consumed by the darkness.
“If you think you heard something…you didn’t.” Welcome to Appalachia folks and to the premise of Jackal by Erin Adams!
I picked this book up expecting 2 or 3 things and got 6 or 7 very different other things instead in a very cool, roller coaster ride way.
Black girls missing in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Racism? Yup! Mystery? Of course! Protagonist Returns to Town and Gets Caught Up In The Mess? Duh!
Buttttt…Hearing Your Name in the Woods When You’re Alone? Hold Up! Black girls going missing every year on the summer solstice for years? WTH! The killer gets a POV? I wasn’t ready!
Jackal by Erin Adams is combo of thriller, horror, mystery and suspense with both reality-based racism and classism mixed with the supernatural interpretations of those isms.
Not Your Ordinary Thriller
Maaaaaaaannnnnnnn!!! Jackal takes Kiss the Girls and dropkicks it in the face! I didn’t know which way was up once those girls started going missing and the protagonist returned to town. But I did know that being in the house when the streetlights came on was absolutely imperative to Black girls survival in that town and if you hear someone calling your name, it’s best just to literally run for your life. Yes, I was indeed creeped out and this book is a proper spooky season read.
I loved a few things about the cultural representation in this book.
- The main character, Liz Rocher, and her mother are Haitian/ Haitian American
- Black people are represented in an Appalachian setting
- Liz, a Black woman who was isolated from other Black people growing up, reaches out to the other Black mothers of missing girls and claims a connection that she had been missing.
- Liz loves the stars and is a blerd.
No spoilers. But I thought I was going to like the angle the supernatural element was going, but the twist it took was not for me. I thought it had potential and I definitely stuck through it to see where it was going. However, my honest reaction was “What did I just read?” more than a “Ohhhh! You got me good!” Which the author did get me, just not in the way I was expecting. Nope! I said I wasn’t doing any spoilers, so you will have to just be your own judge once you read it.
I will definitely read more of this author’s work. This was a good debut with a unique premise. She definitely captured the eeriness of the Appalachian woods and combined it with the danger and vulnerability of being a Black girl in a predominately white town. This was a quick and intense read and I was definitely sweating trying to figure out what was going to happen in the end.
Trigger Warning: Racism, violence, child death, gore, kidnapping, domestic violence, alcoholism