Author: Eileen Cook
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Mystery
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Jill Charron wakes in a hospital suffering multiples injuries, including amnesia. As if that is not bad enough, she soon discovers she was on a school trip in Italy and involved in a car accident. An accident that killed her life long, best friend Simone.
Caught in a whirlwind of media frenzy, she soon learns that the worst is yet to come. Many, including the Italian authorities believe that this was no accident. Jill is the center of a headfirst murder investigation facing extradition and possible jail time. To make matters worse, she is beginning to feel as though her own family thinks it is possible she could be guilty.
But Jill knows she loved Simone and would never have hurt her. At least she thinks so? She can’t remmember what has happend. As she struggles to recover and put pieces together, can she learn what truly happened?
Cleverly written, With Malice reads unlike anything I have ever experienced. If I have said that before, well it is still true now. I am swooning over this one ❤ Swooning enough that is justifies inserting this fantastic picture of Rainbow Dash hugging a book, because I was hugging With Malice as I read it.
Eileen Cook is brilliant! What makes a good mystery novel? Mystery! And there is no shortage of it, starting with our leading female protagonist. Jill is complicated. She is after all, suffering from Amnesia. We pick up small broken pieces of who she might truly be as she grasps to learn the truth through fleeting recollections of the last 6 weeks that have been lost. Is she really the good person she believes, or could she possibly have committed such an atrocious crime? I feel the author does so well with building this character that you feel yourself pulled one way and then yanked back in another direction. Love it! It’s like a fantastic roller-coaster of emotion.
I mean honestly, could she have done it?!
The setting is hard to describe. This is where the author really kicks it up a notch. This is what set With Malice apart from any other mystery novel I have encountered so far. The present day setting for our main character obviously takes place in an inpatient setting as she is recovering. However, chapters begin to alternate as the blanks of what happened during the class trip are slowly divulged. This is done through Jill’s own experiences, excerpts of “Justice for Simone Blog” a blog started in her honor, and copies of police interviews of students, family members and those present in Italy during the trip. For good measure she even throws in clips from news broadcasts and tour guide information.
I know, it sounds messy. Fortunately for us, it isn’t. This is so well written that what could have been an over complicated narration unfolds beautifully. The timeline is flawless. This was a fun and intriguing read. The pace of events was consistent and I never felt my interest wavering. It had the potential to be the usual murder mystery, but Eileen Cook took it to the next level with creative writing and strong narration. With Malice ended on a high note as well for me. It felt resolved and complete. Well done! Recommending this to all YA and mystery fans. However, it might be worth it to step out of your comfort zone and give this one a read, even if you normally do not enjoy mystery.