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Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2022
  • 9781734871388
  • 328 pages
  • $23.99
Paperback Details
  • 03/2022
  • 9781734871371
  • 328 pages
  • $12.99
Ebook Details
  • 03/2022
  • B09VZH11GJ
  • 381 pages
  • $4.99
Julia Ash
Author
Mystified
Julia Ash, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Someone drowned teen beauty queen, Juliette Annabella Parker.

Prior to her death, 15-year-old Jules reigned as the nation’s darling of beauty pageantry. On her parents’ waterfront estate in rural-rich Hickory Thicket, however, she was beset by dark family secrets—those which kept her isolated. Of course, Jules had harbored a few secrets of her own, including her forbidden friendship with the new teen next door, 17-year-old Truitt Windsor.

Jules’s drowned corpse should’ve ended their budding relationship. Except, Truitt sees ghosts and isn’t afraid. Now he’s eager to help Jules solve her murder; only, she can’t be sure of his innocence. In fact, everyone on the estate is suspect, even her parents.

Finding her killer is Jules’s obsession. Not knowing could haunt her for eternity. But her time on Earth is quickly fading…

Reviews
Ash’s intriguing mystery is set against the backdrop of the cutthroat junior beauty pageant world. Fifteen-year-old Juliette (Jules) Annabella Parker is the darling of the pageant circuit, under strict watch by her overbearing mother, Constance. Imprisoned in a gilded cage, the only thing keeping Jules going is her friendship with her new neighbor, Truitt Windsor, who has a few secrets of his own. When Jules mysteriously drowns in her pool, she comes back as a ghost desperate to identify her killer.

Ash (author of the ELI Chronicles bioterrorism series) exhibits a keen eye for detail when it comes to characterization. Jules is an immediately likable, if precocious, teen heroine, whose headstrong demeanor will resonate with young readers. Constance, Jules’s mother, is delightfully over-the-top: Readers may be reminded of Faye Dunaway’s portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. (Decrying an autopsy for her daughter, Constance declares “Mourners will expect an open casket. My God, Finn! Juliette was a beauty queen.”) Although the novel opens with Jules’s death, Ash relies heavily on flashbacks to set up the tale, not revisiting Jules’s death until a third of the way through the book, diminishing the narrative momentum.

There are moments when Jules’s new life as a ghost is funny and inventive—Jules acting as an unseen force disrupting her own autopsy and arguing with her mother from beyond the grave are two such moments—but since the next world proves so similar to our own, complete with intelligible conversations between the dead, the story loses some tension and mystery. Jules has no trouble communicating with those in the realm of the living, and her materiality as a ghost tests a seasoned reader’s suspension of disbelief. Still, Mystified is an engaging read that will pull fans of dark fiction, fantasy, and mystery into a compelling character’s life and death.

Takeaway: This ghostly mystery offers a glimpse of the afterlife and the ugliness of the junior pageant world.

Great for fans of: Jessica Hamilton’s What You Never Knew, Colette McBeth’s The Life I Left Behind.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B+

IndieReader

"Details of a spiritual plane are integrated seamlessly in Julia Ash’s MYSTIFIED, a twisty mystery novel with likable and empathetic characters, great world-building and an endearing message."

Kirkus Reviews

"An engrossing detective story with a diverting spectral spin."

Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2022
  • 9781734871388
  • 328 pages
  • $23.99
Paperback Details
  • 03/2022
  • 9781734871371
  • 328 pages
  • $12.99
Ebook Details
  • 03/2022
  • B09VZH11GJ
  • 381 pages
  • $4.99

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