Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam
Date of publication: October 4th, 2022
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, Mystery Thriller, Adult, Suspense, Contemporary, Audiobook, Fantasy
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. . . .
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 and 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 bride’s daughter, Caroline, goes missing—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 school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart missing. 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.
Tanisha Walker loved the stars. She didn’t memorize the paths of the cosmos of their patterns.Jackal by Erin E. Adams
When I first read the blurb for this book (and saw the striking cover), I thought this would be a great book to read around Halloween. And I did intend to read this book on or around Halloween. But life gets in the way, and I ended up pushing this book off until mid-January. However, I am glad that I read it when I did. Jackal was a disturbing book, and honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to handle reading it around Halloween.
Some prominent trigger warnings come with this book. I had googled it when I got the approval from Random House, so I knew what I was getting into reading it. The trigger warnings are racism (explicit), fatphobia (moderate), domestic violence (detailed in one scene), alcoholism (explicit), anxiety (explicit, it triggered mine in places), death of a child/children (all explicit, I had nightmares), and kidnapping (moderate to explicit). If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading this book.
Jackal takes place entirely in the mountain town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It is a fast-paced book that kept my eyes glued to the pages. I could see similarities to where I am living now, as sad as that is.
The author did not write the characters in Jackal to be likable. I don’t know how to explain, except I could see these characters walking the streets of my town. Out of the introduced characters, I liked Liz and Mel the most. Something about them struck a chord with me, and their characters stayed with me long after I finished the book.
- Liz—She was a freaking mess. She didn’t want to come home to Johnstown and, in fact, had spent almost all of her adult life avoiding traveling there. But she came home because Mel, her best friend, was getting married and Liz was in the wedding. When Caroline was kidnapped, and fingers began pointing to Liz, she was desperate to find her. Her detective work wasn’t the best, but Liz did find some good leads (even when the cops didn’t and wouldn’t). All the while, she depended on the one cop she trusted to help her. I loved how she connected Caroline to the other missing girls.
Jackal fit perfectly into the horror genre. At first (and I had to read Tanisha’s chapter a few times to get it through my thick head) because I didn’t understand what was happening. But the author was able to drop enough hints and build it up so that I did understand. Add in the racial tensions and the tensions over the kidnapping, and this book exploded. There was a mystery angle that added extra depth to the storyline. I liked figuring out who took the girls (all teenagers/pre-teens) and the motivation. I thought that I knew, but yeah, I didn’t.
The author amazingly wrote the storyline with Liz, Caroline’s kidnapping, and the other girl’s murders and how it ties together. The author kept me guessing who the kidnapper was, and she had me think of one person when it was someone else. I loved that the author wrote short chapters about each of the girls who were killed from 1985 and on. I also loved how she tied those killings to Caroline’s kidnapping. There was a part in the book explaining why each girl was killed, and it blew my mind.
The storyline with Liz, the Jackal, Caroline, and the killers was terrific. It went in-depth into the racial and class division in Johnstown. It also explained the Jackal and the motivations behind the killings.
Several smaller sub-storylines added extra depth to the main one. Those more minor storylines explained why Liz was the way she was. They also illustrated several other things brought up in the book. Put it this way; I will never look at a baggie of popcorn the same way again. Talk about disgusting!!!
The end of Jackal was interesting. I will not say a lot, but Liz was fantastic. The author explained the Jackal’s roots (and it did surprise me). There is also a small scene at the end where Caroline lists every girl killed. But other than that, I can’t say anything more because of spoilers.
I recommend Jackal to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and non-graphic sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning above.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam, NetGalley, and Erin E. Adams for allowing me to read and review Jackal. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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