The Bad Ones

Books

The shocking disappearance of four people infuses suburban Palmetto, Illinois, with confusion and fear in Melissa Albert’s gripping supernatural horror thriller, The Bad Ones.

Among the missing is high school junior Nora Powell’s best friend, Becca Cross. As children, the duo established a creative partnership and spent hours in the woods together, with Nora writing stories about the goddesses they imagined, while Becca took photographs. When Becca’s parents died, Nora did her best to absorb Becca’s grief and be a source of constancy in an unstable world. But as Becca’s demeanor turned darker, revealing a discomfiting desire for vengeance, the girls began to drift apart.

As The Bad Ones begins, they haven’t spoken for months. Nonetheless, when Nora gets a text from Becca in the middle of the night, she rushes to Becca’s house and is nonplussed to discover she isn’t there. Nora’s bewilderment transforms into alarm when she realizes nobody has any idea what might’ve befallen Becca or the other three missing people, thanks to a bizarre lack of witnesses or evidence.

Tentative hope arrives in the form of clues Becca left for Nora, many of them referencing the goddess-centric activities of their youth and the urban legend that inspired them. Perhaps, if Nora can uncover the origins of the goddess game Palmetto students have been playing for decades, she can figure out where Becca went—and what she may have done. Nora eventually allows her classmates—shy, handsome James and amateur reporter Ruth—to join her efforts. Can they unravel the mysteries swirling around that fateful night before someone else disappears?

Albert, bestselling author of the Hazel Wood series and Our Crooked Hearts, expertly alternates between high school mundanity and supernatural spookiness, complemented by an impressive flair for the atmospheric. The Bad Ones is a compelling, often delightfully creepy coming-of-age tale that thoughtfully explores the nature of friendship, grief and the perilous power of unwavering belief.

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