Reviews /

This Book Kills

Authored by Ravena Guron
Illustrated by Cover illustrations by Leo Nickolls, Map by Lucy Morris
Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd

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‘I’ll make it clear from the start: I did not kill Hugh Henry Van Boren. I didn’t even help.  Well, not intentionally.’

Set in the elite English boarding school of Heybuckle, This Book Kills is a rollercoaster, murder mystery ride that will pique the interest of any teen or tween who is a fan of the genre. Jess Choudhary is somewhat of a loner at Heybuckle, arriving as a scholarship student, she often feels othered in the presence of the wealth and privilege of the student body. Her best friend Clem is her only refuge. When Hugh Henry Van Boren is mysteriously killed (one of the most popular and wealthy students), Jess receives a mysterious text – ‘Thanks for the inspiration. I couldn’t have killed Hugh without you.’ (pg. 61). It turns out that Jess’ own story has been mimicked as the method for murder. Will Jess be framed for this heinous crime? Who will be the next victim at Heybuckle?

Fans of Holly Jackson and Karen McManus (or, indeed, Agatha Christie!) will really enjoy this playful, fast-paced murder mystery. I particularly enjoyed Jess’ growth as a character from the start to the end of the novel. She begins as a shy, retiring student, clinging to the company of her only friend, Clem. As the story develops, she opens herself up to others in the school and becomes more self-assured and confident. The deeper she gets into uncovering clues about the murder, the more her self-assurance grows.

Whilst the outcome of the book is somewhat predictable, this doesn’t take away from the clever, playful and sometimes humorous writing style of Ravena Guron. The juxtaposition between the entitled and the less privileged is a theme threaded throughout the book and is an interesting contrast to explore. Whenever I read a book by an author that I’ve not read before, I enjoy taking time to discover more about their own background and motivations for writing. Guron, herself, is a lawyer with a degree in biochemistry. She brings this extensive knowledge to her middle grade and YA writing, but also writes with a playful sense of humour which is light relief from the intensity of events as they unfold.

Whilst I’m not usually a fan of murder mysteries, I thoroughly enjoyed This Book Kills and I look forward to reading more by Ravena Guron. Catch Your Death (Usborne, 2023) is another recent murder mystery thriller which I will now be adding to my to-be-read pile!

 

Shortlisted for the Spark Book Awards 2024 Fiction for Readers 11+ Category

Shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2024 Children’s Fiction Category