Review: When the Stars Go Dark

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
Publisher: Ballantine Books | Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 4/13/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife comes a novel of intertwined destinies and heart-wrenching suspense: A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?

Anna Hart is a missing persons detective in San Francisco. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives–and our faith in one another.

Review: When the Stars Are Dark is the first book I’ve read from Paul McLain. This mystery novel takes place in Northern California and explores missing children cases, community, trauma, and courage. Overall, this was a really interesting read. This books is definitely a slow burn. The writing style kept my attention from the first page. I didn’t see some of the twists coming. However, I will note that there are some trigger warnings to watch out for since it is a heavy read: death of a child, drug use, and sexual assault. I’d recommend reading this one if you are interested in true crime and missing person cases.

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