Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"For Lizzie Snow, the ice and snow of her first punishing North Woods winter are dreadful enough. But near the small town of Bearkill a stubborn forest fire now rages out of control, and as embers swirl dangerously in the smoke-filled air, a teenage girl with a history of running away has dropped out of sight again. The locals and the law both think Tara Wylie is up to her old tricks—until her mother receives a terrifying text message.

Equally disturbing: Henry Gemerle—a kidnapper and rapist who once held three girls prisoner for fifteen years—has escaped, and may be lurking in Bearkill. As the fire closes in, Lizzie teams up with her boss Sheriff Cody Chevrier and state cop Dylan Hudson to search for the missing girl and the wily fugitive. But they're blocked by Tara's mother, a frustrating teller of needless lies and keeper of dark, incomprehensible secrets.

Following a trail of grisly clues—a bloodstained motel room, a makeshift coffin in a shallow grave—Lizzie is drawn ever closer to the flames in her race to save an innocent and corner a monster. Someone else also wants to find Tara Wylie and Henry Gemerle, though, for reasons that have nothing to do with mercy or justice. And when they all meet, the inferno threatening Bearkill will pale in comparison to the hell that's about to break loose."

My Thoughts:

Last year I read and adored the first book in this series titled Winter At the Door.  I knew as soon as I finished that book that I wanted to continue on with this series so I jumped at the chance to read this one.  And I went into reading it with higher expectations because of my love of book one.  Happily enough for me, this book was even better than Winter At the Door in my opinion and has cemented my love for this series!  I am well and truly hooked at this point and must see what kind of trouble Lizzie finds herself in next.  What I loved most about this book was how completely different it was from book one.  This one tells a few different story lines at once and they all come together in the end perfectly.  It was such a suspenseful read because of the way that they story was told!  This book was also much darker then I had expected it to be which was a surprise.  There were times when I could literally feel my heart pounding while reading it and I admit to cringing a bit at the beginning.  That is because I wasn't sure what was going to happen next but I knew that it wasn't going to be good.  Before long I was completely sucked into this book and it wasn't until the very last page that I was able to finally to relax.  

One of the things that I love most about this series is how the author uses the weather to create additional tension and add to the suspense level.  In the first book it was the cold winter weather but in this book it was the constant threat of forest fires that the characters had to deal with.  The fire's presence felt like a living, breathing entity at times....I felt like the entire town might go up in flames at certain points while I was reading.  It made the book seem that much more sinister and suspenseful for me as the reader.  I also really enjoyed getting to see all of the characters from book one again.  Lizzie is still just as great as I remembered her to be which made me happy.  I'm hoping that the story line about her missing niece will continue into further books and that at some point we will finally get all of the answers to that mystery.  The author does a great job of interweaving this story line into each book without it being overwhelming.  It is just something else that Lizzie is trying to deal with along with everything else that she has thrown at her.  The ending of this book was quite crazy and I fully admit to being unable to stop reading once I got to a certain point.  I stayed up way too late to finish this one but it was completely worth it!

Overall, this was an amazing follow-up to book one and left me so excited about this series in general.  When is book three coming out??  I need it in my life!  I do think that readers will enjoy this series more if they read the books in order but this definitely could be read by on its own.  Obviously I highly recommend them both (as evidenced by all of my gushing).  This is just a really great mystery series with some great characters and I can't say enough good things about it.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A mystery that I couldn't put down until the very end!  So good!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.


  1. I have the first one on my Kindle. Now to remember to read it. I need to make a list. Except every time I 'plan' my reading, I go off on tangents. Anyway, I do 'intend' (not planning) to read both the books in this series this year. So good to hear that the second is just as good as the first.

  2. It is exciting to read a review when someone is totally gushing over a book which is also in a series. I have seen this cover recently but I do not remember book one. Will look out for it. Great review.

  3. Great review! Sounds like this author not only has good character development but also pays attention to setting! Adding the series to my list.


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