Fifteen years ago, summer camper Emma Davis watched sleepily as her three cabin mates snuck out of their cabin in the dead of night. The last she–and anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the NYC art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings.. They catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of the very same Camp Nightingale–and when Francesca implores Emma to return to the camp as a painting counselor, Emma sees an opportunity to find closure and move on.
Yet, it is immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by surfacing memories, Emma is suddenly plagued by a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca, and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian apparently left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. And as history begins to repeat itself and three girls go missing again, Emma must face threats from both man and nature in order to uncover all the buried secrets–including what really happened all those years ago.
I want to give this four stars because of how good the ending is, but if I remember how frustrating most of the story before the ending is, I just can’t. In what seems an effort to build suspense, the author doles out details as if it is painful. And for me, it was. Literal cliffhangers for the most mundane details that are so far from epiphanies it’s laughable.
Most of the story is a collection of urban legends about summer camps and rich kids and private schools. All wrapped up together with some neglectful parents, mental illness, and mild flirting. Honestly, looking back, the last chapter is what made this book worthwhile. And if you have to go through it all to get there, I guess it’s worth it.
Emma is so obnoxious. She’s so caught up in her ‘secrets’ and her ‘lies’ and they’re all fairly pathetic. She goes around blaming the same people over and over again for what happened, keeps developing more crazy theories to blame even more people, and then is completely heartbroken and surprised when these same people try to place the blame on her for legitimate-seeming reasons. It’s so one-sided and oblivious it was driving me crazy. There isn’t actually a single thing she figures out on her own that ends up being worthwhile and instead, she just tries to drag a bunch of other people down with her. If Emma was a more likable heroine or even just a better-functioning human being, I would’ve been much more on her side from the beginning.
Besides this, I did find the book to be worth reading. The ending is only mildly predictable and there are a few twists there that really got me. Unfortunately, the book seems to end just when it’s become the most interesting. While some of the details may have grated on my nerves, I certainly appreciated the overall tone and direction of the book as a whole.