Title: Useless Bay
Author: M. J. Beaufrand
Review: The opening to Useless Bay was very unconventional it was plain while being dramatic with extremely dark undertones. While only being under 230 pages long and written in an understandable way for middle grade children I would most certainly recommend this to a young adult and up audience. This book is told from the duel perspectives of Pixie and Henry. Pixie is the youngest of Gray quintuplets, the only girl among four brothers fighting to be their equal. Henry is a friend of Pixie’s who family having some away time at their second home on Useless Bay after Henry gets into a fight. Henry is secretly in love with Pixie and it breaks his heart to see her friendly with his younger brother; Grant. But this take another dramatic twist – the day after arriving in Useless Bay both Grant and their stepmother go missing.
After Grant disappears fingers are almost immediately pointed at the Gray children. Dean the eldest is taken for questioning as he admits he was the last one to see Grant into the rowboat – in the middle of a storm – although this is a lie as he is covering for one of his other siblings. Henry points the finger at Pixie who denies having Grant, Pixie also feels something is really off about the whole situation but despite all the allegations Henry, Pixie and the other Gray siblings bands together to search for Grant and all pray for his safe return. While searching for Grant near the water where Grant had last been seen they uncover something no one was expecting to find. The body of Lyudmila Grant’s stepmother, she had drown with a rope around her neck which is odd in itself but what makes it worse was she had been doused in bleach. Pixie immediately knows this was no accident, it was murder. Pixie also continues to be plagued by these strange feelings and she also hears voices, she knows the voices from somewhere but this hasn’t been disclosed to the reader yet. As the search for Grant intensifies after the discovery of Lyudmila’s body we start to notice so really odd things about the Gray children but in particular Pixie. Although they are put into situations where these oddities are revealed we are given no explanation for them.
As we come into the second half of the novel we are no closer to finding out what has happened to Grant or what is so strange about the Gray quintuplets. As we reach the halfway point and the second part of the novel more fantasy elements are added to the novel namely a spirit of the sea that claims the souls that died in Useless’ Bays waters. This makes the novel not only dark and mysterious but also a very thrilling and fast paced read. As another body emerges although not human – it was Patience Pixie’s scent hound the best on the island things become more and more strange. It seems to me that someone doesn’t want to be found and is taking every possible precaution to do so like killing the dog. This is a major blow for Pixie as she was the closest to the dog but she is also trying to figure out what happened in the minutes she was dead and the significance of the sea spirit and the words she whispered in Pixie’s ear, the words she can’t remember.
As we learn more about the Grays and Henry we realizes there is far more going than what meets the eyes and that perhaps someone extremely close to Grant is responsible for his disappearance or possible death along with that of Lyudmila. With the prime suspect dead for a trigger happy cop the finger is going to be pointed as someone else, maybe on of the Grays unless Grant makes an appearance again soon. Grant has now been gone for several days and with each passing hour the hope of finding him alive and well falls. As the real killer and their motives are revealed Henry, Meredith and the Gray children are thrust into a dramatic conclusion.
I loved the ending on the novel as all the loose ends were tied up but it was a happy ending as such as it was overshadowed by all the death that has passed through Useless Bay. This was a great story that I would highly recommend the crime and thriller readers as well as everyone else. I felt the plot was slow and confusing at first but become clearer as the story progress and the novel is filled with lots of extremely complex and well developed characters that are very easy to relate to and love. Overall I think this book has become one of my favorites for this year and I can’t wait to read more by this author.
This book was sent to me for review consideration by Abrams & Chronicle
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