Book Reviews

Review: All These Beautiful Strangers

  • Author: Elizabeth Klehfoth
  • Edition: Kindle Edition
  • Publishing: July 10, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological
  • Goodreads

In the last day of summer, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Allister Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New Englandschool she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Charlotte “Charlie” Calloway is white bread, picture-perfect, member of high society, at least her family is. Charlie herself is a manipulative, calculating, but ultimately good-hearted young woman struggling to find her place within the food chain of academia. Manipulation is a Calloway trait. Her father, Alastair, is a business mogul and president of the Calloway company. Their name is one that demands respect and all the perks that come with that kind of old aristocratic fortune, and as is the case with most filthy rich family trees, the Calloways are not without their skeletons.

All These Beautiful Strangers follows Charlie’s journey into becoming part of an elite secret society at her school, the esteemed Knollwood Preparatory School. Will she truly go to the lengths demanded of her to earn a place amongst the school’s most clandestine crowd? She certainly attempts to, and along the way discovers a few insidious insights into her family’s legacy that threaten to upend everything she thought she knew, including a sinister trail that will lead her to the truth behind her mother’s supposed abandonment.

Klehfoth skillfully weaves together simultaneous mysteries and alternating timelines in a manner that can only be described as graceful. I never felt confused or distracted by the juxtaposing narratives. On the contrary, I thought the scope of the novel assisted in creating layered, complex characters that separated this book from the run-of-the-mill YA mysteries I’ve read in the past. Her writing is rich and evocative and I hungered for more of this world. This was a rare mystery novel I would like to see a sequel to, if only because I grew attached to some of the characters and the stories they have left to tell.

There were a few tiny things that weren’t quite to my taste, the need for Charlie to “other” herself from other women in her life, the strange dialogues about her not enjoying female friendships gave me a very “she’s not like other girls” vibe that I wasn’t fond of. I think it devalues the intelligence of Charlie as a character. There also wasn’t much time spent developing Charlie’s friendships with Stevie, Yael, or even her supposed best friend Drew. Instead that time was spent on three male characters I had a hard time differentiating between. Leo was easily the most intriguing of the bunch, Greyson and Dalton felt like pale imitations of him and yet he disappears without a trace towards the end of the book (and no not in a follow-up disappearance kind of way). I wish the story hadn’t succumbed to some of the typical YA tropes of petty romance drama. I also felt this way concerning the relationship between Teddy, Grace, and Alastair. Teddy and Grace’s relationship was given sufficient time and development and ultimately did not hold much of an impact on the overall storyline. I feel like Klehforth had deep reaching characterizations and history mapped out but there wasn’t enough time to flesh it out the way it could have been, and it may have lead us astray from the central mysteries.

If you’ve ever read the Private series by Kate Brian this will definitely be a book you’ll love. Klehfoth is a talented writer, she created a lush, evocative and entrancing world that left me spellbound by the Calloway legacy, in spite of its corruption nature. I really enjoyed myself reading this book and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves young adult mysteries or just mysteries and suspense in general.

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