Author: Kerry Wilkinson
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Publication Date: July 26, 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
‘I will never forget the night I drowned…’
A village with something to hide.
Seventeen-year-old Eleanor Parker wakes up cold and alone in the river that twists through her quiet village. She has no memory of how she got there. But she does know that another girl was drowned in the same river the summer before, held under the water by an unknown killer…
A community torn apart.
Eleanor is a normal, every day teenager. She argues with her mum, spends her days with her best friend, and is looking forward to a carefree summer of sunshine and music. Who would want to hurt her?
A shocking secret.
Determined to unlock the mystery of what really happened to her, Eleanor can’t escape the feeling that something awful links her to the previous summer’s murder. But will she find out the truth before it’s too late?
The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker isn’t your typical young adult mystery — it’s a genre-defying, original spin on investigating your own murder … after the fact.
Ellie Parker is just your average teenage girl who suddenly finds herself with a slew of not-so-average problems when she wakes up on a riverbank with large gaps in her memory. Last night might be a blur, but she has the unsettling certainty that she was drowned the previous evening. And it’s not just Ellie’s memory that’s gone—she’s missing her sense of smell, can’t stomach food, and is absolutely freezing all of the time.
How can you investigate your own murder when no one realizes you’re really dead? Ellie struggles to determine who she can and can’t trust, keeping everyone at arm’s length as she begins trying to plug the holes in her memory. Her brother’s girlfriend died in the river the previous year—is it connected? Or does it have to do with the mysterious man who’s been spotted on the outskirts of town? Or with the way her boyfriend is suddenly hesitant to be around her? Wilkinson injects a witty humor into Ellie’s voice that makes her mishaps and cynical societal commentary a joy to read. With far more suspects than clues, she must retrace her steps and solve her own murder, doing her best to ignore the fact it feels like time is running out, and she’s not quite sure what will happen when it does.
I didn’t realize just how literal Ellie’s return from the death would be, but despite my initial surprise and wariness, I became fascinated by the unique plot. Not wanting anyone to find out the truth behind her not-so-alive predicament, Ellie does her best playing the expected role of best friend, girlfriend, sister, and daughter, even when she’s doubting the intentions of everyone around her. It’s a fun dichotomy, and I flew through this novel so much quicker than I had expected.
I love that we don’t get bogged down by the existential technicalities of what happened to Ellie, but it does make her return from the dead come across as rather hand-wavy at times. I also wish there had been more focus on scratching beyond the surface of Ellie’s interpersonal relationships. It felt like some of her friends and family were just plot points, which left me unsure where she stood with them at the end of the novel.
Nevertheless, The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker is a quite enjoyable young adult mystery novel. It’s got plenty of unique twists and a refreshing protagonist that will keep you on your toes. Be sure to be on the lookout for when it’s released later this month!
Warm thanks to Bookouture for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.