The Missing Season – Gillian French

My first novel by YA writer Gillian French was The Lies They Tell and I loved it. The Missing Season was also a great read, especially the last third or so when the action ramped up.

Clara and her parents move to Pender, Maine, where her father has been hired to help with the demolition of the town’s paper mill. Clara is used to being the new girl, but she’s a senior now and hoping that maybe they could stay put.

Pender is a hick town, but it’s also a town with a seam of darkness running through it. For one, several teens have gone missing. Then, there’s the “Mumbler” a legendary boogey man.

Clara meets Bree and Sage, who introduce her to some other people who hang out at the local skate park including Sage’s boyfriend, the larger-than-life, Trace, and Kincaid, who has “the most incredible face.” It seems that life in Pender might be okay, until the attraction she feels for Kincaid turns out to be mutual and Bree’s feelings get hurt.

The Missing Season is really a teen drama wrapped up in a creepy All Hallows’ Eve package. Clara and her new friends get up to no good, but these are mostly harmless pranks. Clara tries to navigate the tricky waters of being the new girl, wanting desperately to be a part of something bigger than herself. Kincaid is secretive and despite their attraction, Clara never really knows what he’s really thinking. Ahhh, high school relationships.

When a girl on the periphery of their group goes missing, though, things start to get real. Maybe the warnings to “Fear Him” actually have some validity. About two thirds of the way in, when Clara suddenly finds herself in danger and another girl goes missing, The Missing Season really takes off. Clara is a likable heroine who demonstrates grit when needed, making her someone readers will surely root for.

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