Growing up in the small town of Ember Grove is ordinary but, there is something very special to be anticipated on finally leaving school, the traditional, but secret, ceremony called the Revelry. For Bitsy Clark it is part of her family history and she is looking forward to discovering its secret when her turn comes. When her friend Amy, who is an incomer to the town, persuades her to gate-crash the event, held in the local wood, before their own year, they have little idea of the results. They find that they cannot remember what actually happened, but Bitsy discovers that she seems to be having a run of bad luck, which is difficult to explain. Her attempts to find out what went on at the Revelry leads to the uncovering of dark secrets and the acknowledgement that there are strange forces at play in the local woods.
This is a wonderful tale of friendship and the strains that can be placed on it, but it is also a dark and somewhat spooky tale which suggests it is not a good idea to visit the woods at night. There is an underlying sense of fear and a feeling that the events of the Revelry are not as lighthearted and celebratory as the younger inhabitants think. Katherine Webber is well known for her Dragon Realm series, co-written with her husband, but she is also a writer of several YA novels that really speak to the reader and this book definitely does that. There is a gradual build-up of tension as Bitsy discovers some of the dark truths from previous generations, as well as finding the strange, even weird character of Skyler who appears to control the events of the ‘celebration’. I think this is going to be one of the high spots of early 2022 and a great hit with teen readers.