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Could a hundred-year-old circus sideshow be the key to Frankie’s mysterious past? Seventeen-year old Frankie doesn’t trust easily. Not others, and not even herself. Found in an alley when she was a child, she has no memory of who she is, or why she was left there. Recurring dreams about a hundred-year-old carnival sideshow, a performer known as Alligator Girl, and a man nam Could a hundred-year-old circus sideshow be the key to Frankie’s mysterious past? Seventeen-year old Frankie doesn’t trust easily. Not others, and not even herself. Found in an alley when she was a child, she has no memory of who she is, or why she was left there. Recurring dreams about a hundred-year-old carnival sideshow, a performer known as Alligator Girl, and a man named Monsieur Duval have an eerie familiarity to them. Frankie gets drawn deeper into Alligator Girl’s world, and the secrets that kept the performers bound together. But a startling encounter with Monsieur Duval when she’s awake makes Frankie wonder what’s real and what’s in her head. As Frankie’s and Alligator Girl’s stories unfold, Frankie’s life takes a sharp twist. Are the dreams her way of working through her trauma, or is there a more sinister plan at work? And if there is, does she have the strength to fight it?


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Could a hundred-year-old circus sideshow be the key to Frankie’s mysterious past? Seventeen-year old Frankie doesn’t trust easily. Not others, and not even herself. Found in an alley when she was a child, she has no memory of who she is, or why she was left there. Recurring dreams about a hundred-year-old carnival sideshow, a performer known as Alligator Girl, and a man nam Could a hundred-year-old circus sideshow be the key to Frankie’s mysterious past? Seventeen-year old Frankie doesn’t trust easily. Not others, and not even herself. Found in an alley when she was a child, she has no memory of who she is, or why she was left there. Recurring dreams about a hundred-year-old carnival sideshow, a performer known as Alligator Girl, and a man named Monsieur Duval have an eerie familiarity to them. Frankie gets drawn deeper into Alligator Girl’s world, and the secrets that kept the performers bound together. But a startling encounter with Monsieur Duval when she’s awake makes Frankie wonder what’s real and what’s in her head. As Frankie’s and Alligator Girl’s stories unfold, Frankie’s life takes a sharp twist. Are the dreams her way of working through her trauma, or is there a more sinister plan at work? And if there is, does she have the strength to fight it?

30 review for The Life and Deaths of Frankie D.

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This book started soooo good with its mysterious loss memory theme and portraits from so much lovable twelve years old girl’s life. But in the middle of the book, the magic ends and it starts getting flat, pace gets slower and slower like never ending nerve bending song! And the conclusion comes out of nowhere abruptly and haphazardly. Maybe I’m not the right reviewer choice for this book because it seems like written for middle grade more than young adult age group ( even though I have a youn This book started soooo good with its mysterious loss memory theme and portraits from so much lovable twelve years old girl’s life. But in the middle of the book, the magic ends and it starts getting flat, pace gets slower and slower like never ending nerve bending song! And the conclusion comes out of nowhere abruptly and haphazardly. Maybe I’m not the right reviewer choice for this book because it seems like written for middle grade more than young adult age group ( even though I have a young soul, I’m still freaking middle age woman! So it could be a little challenging for me to make an object evaluation because it seems like I’m not in the targeted reviewer group of this story) Overall: the author creates so much impressively adorable characters but the way of story telling style was a little bumpy! Beginning was fascinating and hooking you up but I wish the ending could be well executed! I’m giving three mysterious, vivid, mystic circus stars! As far as I see the author has still great potential to create magical worlds and connectable characters so I’d pleased to read more of her works in near future. Special thanks to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Loved the atmosphere, the setting, and the characters!

  3. 5 out of 5

    laur gluchie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have received a digital Advance Reader’s Copy of this book through NetGalley. This has not affected my rating in any way. “Hi my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I-“ Ok, I’m joking, I’m joking... but if you told me that this was the opening line to this book, I’d probably believe you. The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. had potential. It’s synopsis sounds good, it’s cover is beautiful, and yet this disappointed me in so many ways. The premise of this book had me hoping for A Madne I have received a digital Advance Reader’s Copy of this book through NetGalley. This has not affected my rating in any way. “Hi my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I-“ Ok, I’m joking, I’m joking... but if you told me that this was the opening line to this book, I’d probably believe you. The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. had potential. It’s synopsis sounds good, it’s cover is beautiful, and yet this disappointed me in so many ways. The premise of this book had me hoping for A Madness So Discreet or Daughter of the Burning City vibes, but this was very bland in comparison. Frankie was one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever had to read about. She almost seemed like she was based on Ebony from My Immortal, if that’s even possible. In almost every single chapter she had to mention that she was a goth. We get it, The Cure, please stop telling me. The plot was interesting, but I felt it was lacking in creepiness. Not even that, it felt like it was trying too hard to be creepy that it just wasn’t. It was almost comical, really. Although this book had some very beautiful moments, like the circus and the appreciation for the acts in it. I was a bit worried that this author would be ableist, even by accident, but the author was very careful in describing these characters. They were well written and well treated, so I applaud the author on that. Final thoughts? This was okay. If Frankie’s personality had been changed, and the story had a bit more of a “spooky, creepy” plot, I think this would’ve been more enjoyable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    This book had a very intriguing premise of lost memories and dreams of possible past lives. Frankie was found in an alley when she was 10 with a bump on her head and no memories. She also had an incredibly rare skin condition that left her reptile like scales all over her skin. She lives with her previous therapist who became her foster mother after some bumps in her road. She starts to dream of a strange man and she draws what she remembers to try to figure it out. A new boy at school recognize This book had a very intriguing premise of lost memories and dreams of possible past lives. Frankie was found in an alley when she was 10 with a bump on her head and no memories. She also had an incredibly rare skin condition that left her reptile like scales all over her skin. She lives with her previous therapist who became her foster mother after some bumps in her road. She starts to dream of a strange man and she draws what she remembers to try to figure it out. A new boy at school recognizes the man and says he also has been dreaming of that man. The story was not bad and did a pretty good job exploring some tough themes about bullying and sexual abuse. The story started out well but seemed to lag a little. Overall it was enjoyable and an interesting look into the historical life in a freak show.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ally

    So, The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. First off, before getting started, I absolutely love the cover. The color scheme and everything <3 Okay, so onto my actual thoughts Getting into the book, I really thought that I would love it. Sadly though, that was not the case. It wasn't bad, but there wasn't anything exceptionally special about it. I'm trying to become a teensy bit harsher with my ratings because I guess that SOMETIMES I give books five stars that aren't worth five stars. ONLY SOMETIMES THO So, The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. First off, before getting started, I absolutely love the cover. The color scheme and everything <3 Okay, so onto my actual thoughts Getting into the book, I really thought that I would love it. Sadly though, that was not the case. It wasn't bad, but there wasn't anything exceptionally special about it. I'm trying to become a teensy bit harsher with my ratings because I guess that SOMETIMES I give books five stars that aren't worth five stars. ONLY SOMETIMES THOUGH, very few times at that. AnYwAyS, the beginning of this novel was incredibly strong. The world and characters were built and established so well. I would say that about half of the book was like this. HOWEVER, after the halfway mark, things went downhill from there. After all the amazing worldbuilding, there was an incredible foundation for this novel, but then everything was just neglected in a way. The first half of this novel was still amazing and I really enjoyed it. If the whole entirety of the book was like the first half, this would easily be a 5-star book. Even if this book wasn't for me, it is definitely for someone else. This will totally be someone else's cup of tea, just not mine. also, this was a pretty quick read, only like a bit less than 300 pages :) (I would like to thank Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. All of these thoughts are my own)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gee

    (I received an ARC from Dundurn Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review! Thanks to both for trusting me with 'The Life and Deaths of Frankie D.') If you ask anyone who knows me beyond superficial acquaintanceship, they will tell you that I'm so into circus-themed stories, I'm a pretty big clown myself. J(ust kidding about being a clown, but I do LOVE anything with circus vibes!) As soon as I read the words "carnival side show" in this book's blurb, I knew I had to read it. My eleve (I received an ARC from Dundurn Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review! Thanks to both for trusting me with 'The Life and Deaths of Frankie D.') If you ask anyone who knows me beyond superficial acquaintanceship, they will tell you that I'm so into circus-themed stories, I'm a pretty big clown myself. J(ust kidding about being a clown, but I do LOVE anything with circus vibes!) As soon as I read the words "carnival side show" in this book's blurb, I knew I had to read it. My eleven-year-old self, who was absolutely obsessed with Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak series, would have basically killed me if I had decided not to give this story a go! When TLaDoFD starts, we're introduced to Frankie D. D as in "Doe"; having been found in a dark alley with no memories at all when she was 10 years old, Frankie has spent every year she can remember in the foster care system, jumping from foster parent to foster parent and never trusting anyone beyond the foster care service psychologist, Kris. Due to a skin condition called lamelar ichthyosis, Frankie's skin is flaked, and appears to be covered in alligator-like scales that she must hide under thick foundation and flashy goth make-up. Nobody wants to be friends with the weird goth girl, of course, and the popular girls Frankie thinks of as 'Aprils' make sure that she never forgets that there's no place for her in their world. Lonely and hurt, Frankie doesn't really have much hope for her future... But things begin to change when Frankie meets Max at high school. Mysterious and secretive, the new boy at school is immediately interested in Frankie, for reasons she can't quite pinpoint. Shortly after Max's arrival, Frankie starts having strange dreams. In them, she witnesses the the day-to-day of a sweet girl called Frances, whose dad is the ringmaster for a Circus of Wonders. And Frances herself is a part of the circus, with her lamelar ichthyosis and her alias Alligator Girl. As Frankie dreams on, Frances' story begins to unfold before her eyes. But stuff starts happening in real life, as well, and soon enough Frankie's life starts to change. What to say about this book? The rating would be more of a 3.75*, if we're being extra honest. At first the story didn't really hook me, but soon enough, the plot thickened and took a few interesting turns. Suddenly Egyptian mythology came onstage, and... Circus vibes + Egyptian lore? I'm so, so in. Colleen Nelson's writing was agile and fresh, and made it all too easy for me to keep turning the pages. I could relate to Frankie's hurt and loneliness, which made it so much easier for me to empathise with her and how she felt! I must give a special shoutout to Frankie's gothness. Having been a bit of a Emo myself when I was in my early teens, I could understand her thoughts on death, life, and decay, and appreciate the beauty with which she talked about them. Pangs of nostalgia aside, the author made an evident effort to have her MC embrace the Goth lifestyle, instead of just taking the looks and being an overly dramatic and existentialist child. I really appreciated the rep of urban tribes! What was also very welcome representation was Jessica's story. Not only because of what happened to her, but also because of how she and Frankie slowly raised each other up, and helped each other fight their demons. I felt really happy that Frankie got the chance to make a friend, and to slowly open up about herself to them! It was a very beautiful friendship, and I couldn't have stanned it more. Plus, the brutally honest testimony of Jessica made me fall in love with the book. It was very refreshing to see how an issue as delicate as sexual assault was dealt with. There were (apparently) two timelines; Alligator Girl's and Frankie's. Both are equally enjoyable, and both have a powerful cast of characters, Again, the Egyptian twist was one of the things I loved the most! All in all, this was quite a fun read, and I do definitely recommend to any fellow circus lover... As well as to all the children and young teens that have ever felt like they would always be miserable. The story holds an extremely powerful message of redemption, of acceptance, and of healing. Not only is it a wild, fun ride--it's also a life lesson on the braveness that it takes to go on. Would definitely recommend it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    The Reading Raccoon

    The Life and Deaths of Frankie D is a YA contemporary mystery-fantasy about a teen girl who can’t remember any of the details of her life before the age of 10. When Frankie begins to have dreams about a 1920’s circus sideshow she isn’t sure what is real and what could be actual pieces of her past. Frankie Doe lives in foster care and wears Goth makeup to cover an extremely rare skin condition. She has difficulty making friends but loves art, Comic-Con and goth culture. She has settled into life The Life and Deaths of Frankie D is a YA contemporary mystery-fantasy about a teen girl who can’t remember any of the details of her life before the age of 10. When Frankie begins to have dreams about a 1920’s circus sideshow she isn’t sure what is real and what could be actual pieces of her past. Frankie Doe lives in foster care and wears Goth makeup to cover an extremely rare skin condition. She has difficulty making friends but loves art, Comic-Con and goth culture. She has settled into life with her former social worker (current foster mom) and alludes to an issue with the boyfriend of one of her past foster moms. Suddenly, she starts to have dreams about a 1920’s sideshow and various people connected to her dreams start popping up in real life. As Frankie searches for the reason behind her dreams she will also get answers to her past including who she really is. I appreciated Colleen Nelson’s attempt to create a completely unique story. I can’t say I’ve ever read a YA novel that included the plot lines of Frankie’s skin condition, a circus sideshow or Egyptian dark magic. There are even some thriller moments with characters who may or may not to be villains. Unfortunately, much of the story felt like a slightly more grown-up Goosebumps book. I enjoyed the sideshow part of the story and would have loved to explore more of that world with better explanations on the actual medical issues and physical deformities some of the performers had. It was the current world with so much of Frankie’s sad sack “woe is me” attitude that wasn’t that enjoyable for a reader. The zero friends because no-one-gets-me trope is exhausting to read. I’m also extremely biased as a foster/adoption parent and get annoyed to see yet more examples of bad foster parenting in YA novels (although her current situation was positive and healthy). It seems like the world is moving away from hurtful stereotypes and yet abusive foster parents get to persist over and over in print without any of the nuances that other groups get to enjoy. Overall this novel had some interesting plot lines but felt like a rough draft. I think it would have actually been better if some aspects of the story were played up (like the historical aspect) or down (her past in other foster homes and bullying). It could have even been a fun middle-grade chapter book or graphic novel with a little tweaking. But nothing really felt “young adult” about it to me. 3 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aly

    This is a quick paced mystery about a girl with no memory of her past, but dreaming of someone else's. Frankie was found by the police one night, abandoned in an alley and she bounced around foster care before finally finding a home with her caseworker. Now she's having terrifying, bloody nightmares and isn't sure what's real... I liked Frankie and felt bad that she had to hide her skin condition so kids didn't make fun of her. She's labeled a freak at school and has no friends, even though she's This is a quick paced mystery about a girl with no memory of her past, but dreaming of someone else's. Frankie was found by the police one night, abandoned in an alley and she bounced around foster care before finally finding a home with her caseworker. Now she's having terrifying, bloody nightmares and isn't sure what's real... I liked Frankie and felt bad that she had to hide her skin condition so kids didn't make fun of her. She's labeled a freak at school and has no friends, even though she's a kind person and a talented artist. The dreams were interesting and the plot moved at a good rate. A couple things were predictable, but this kept my attention. I thought the deaths meant Frankie had lived several lives, but that's not quite how it goes. Not a bad read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary Klinkowsky

    Life and Deaths of Frankie D. By Colleen Nelson Not only is the copy o read an ARC but a promotional ARC! Very cool, the author’s note to the reader about the origins of the story is enough to hook you. I saw that the audience age is 12-15 I am waaay off the demographic and on the surface this is not my genre but the passion in the author’s writing forced me to read this story and what a pleasant surprise. A story about a “reptile girl” and a traveling freak show from the 1920’s is not something Life and Deaths of Frankie D. By Colleen Nelson Not only is the copy o read an ARC but a promotional ARC! Very cool, the author’s note to the reader about the origins of the story is enough to hook you. I saw that the audience age is 12-15 I am waaay off the demographic and on the surface this is not my genre but the passion in the author’s writing forced me to read this story and what a pleasant surprise. A story about a “reptile girl” and a traveling freak show from the 1920’s is not something I would normally pick. I looked past my biases and read on to discover Frankie (who should be renamed Frankie the Brave) a girl with no memory of her life before the age of 10 and her social worker foster mom. Through her dreams Frankie discovers the past which impacts her present and future. I devoured this book in one day. With Egyptian folklore a large part of the story I am left desperate for stories of mummy’s and curses but I feel it will be hard to find one that combines folklore and a modern girl with such entertainment and ease. Thank you Colleen Nelson & NetGalley for the fascinating read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maria Clara Bruno

    Intriguing, fun, but misleading. The book starts off really well, the author knows her characters and builds a very interesting world. She hooks the readers with so many promises for the story and for its main character, Frankie Doe. But I must say that her writing felt flaky (no pun intended) - sometimes you can see how this book would be classified as YA, but most of the time it seems to be a perfect fit for a middle-grade audience. Putting that remark aside, and thinking of this book as middl Intriguing, fun, but misleading. The book starts off really well, the author knows her characters and builds a very interesting world. She hooks the readers with so many promises for the story and for its main character, Frankie Doe. But I must say that her writing felt flaky (no pun intended) - sometimes you can see how this book would be classified as YA, but most of the time it seems to be a perfect fit for a middle-grade audience. Putting that remark aside, and thinking of this book as middle-grade, it really was enjoyable. I can see a 12-year-old kid having the time of her life with this book, but I can't see a 16+-year-old kid digging this. Also, the ending felt a little bit rushed for my taste. Colleen got us hooked on her characters, she made them likable enough for us to care, so I'd have liked to see a better and thought-out ending.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Isabel Criado

    Frankie is a foster kid who in midst of having a lot of past and present issues, starts having dreams of this circus of "freaks" that haunts her by the eerily familiarity it brings. She not only feels like she has lived what she is seeing in her dreams but the girl she embodies in them has both her name and her same skin condition. And everything becomes incredibly more complicated when she starts seeing the people she dreams of in her actual life. I love that the story gives us the chance to pie Frankie is a foster kid who in midst of having a lot of past and present issues, starts having dreams of this circus of "freaks" that haunts her by the eerily familiarity it brings. She not only feels like she has lived what she is seeing in her dreams but the girl she embodies in them has both her name and her same skin condition. And everything becomes incredibly more complicated when she starts seeing the people she dreams of in her actual life. I love that the story gives us the chance to piece together Frances story through Frankie's dreams, and the mystery it brings towards the origin of the protagonist herself. I would say that it seems perfect as a tween read, but the dark themes brought by Jessica and Frankie herself makes the read for people a little older. But what's good about this is that the story reads smooth, the pacing is good and it's a quick read easy to get into. I had actually just finished a book and thought it would take me a while to be interested in this arc and yet before I knew it I was halfway through it. I love Frances story, how it reveals that you can be exploited from those you love the most even when you're too young to comprehend what is happening. I did feel that sometimes her story overshadows Frankie's own, but I believe that is just my own love for magic lurking into the story which then starts leaking into Frankie's own life by the end of the books so it balances it off. This book does a very good job at creating a believable world. Frankie is a great protagonist because she tells a story we rarely miss in the narrative world; the one of a foster kid, what they have been through and how it heavily affects her personality and overall identity. And she also topples with this hatred against her skin because of ichthyosis vulgaris, a skin condition that leaves her with what is known as fish-scale or reptilian skin. Her fear of being vulnerable, how she hides constantly and having one hobby that is her only comfort is something I truly think so many young girls will identify with. The only issue I have with her is how strongly she feels about what being goth is all about. She has this higher than thou complex, with might just be her fatal flaw, but for someone who I want to look up to, it makes her look down on other women. And that is a huge problem when you mix it up with the #metoo talk. There are a few misspellings that I caught that are probably being taken care of as I was reading it so I'm not worried about those. The only thing that nags at me is how quickly sexual assault is touched upon. If you really want to delve into something so serious it has to be real and harsh. And it's the only thing theme that makes this book not for middle graders (I would not let my brother read this because it shocked ME, a twenty year old, to the bone). Nevertheless, it was a good read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eule Luftschloss

    dnf at page 66 trigger warning (view spoiler)[ trauma, ptsd (hide spoiler)] Foster kid Frankie has the same dream every night, which leads her guardian to believe that this might be the key to unlocking Frankie's past. Let me start with this: I broke off because of the pain Frankie experiences. The book may lack in some aspects, but I found the depiction of PTSD very realistic - too realistic for my liking. Since my mental health is not in a good place, either, I have had to stop reading this. Fran dnf at page 66 trigger warning (view spoiler)[ trauma, ptsd (hide spoiler)] Foster kid Frankie has the same dream every night, which leads her guardian to believe that this might be the key to unlocking Frankie's past. Let me start with this: I broke off because of the pain Frankie experiences. The book may lack in some aspects, but I found the depiction of PTSD very realistic - too realistic for my liking. Since my mental health is not in a good place, either, I have had to stop reading this. Frankie is very fixated on being a goth, which leads me to believe that we might have a late middlegrade or early ya on our hands. I've been there. I don't think it's exaggerated, but it's certainly annoying to read in some parts. Especially if you get contradictions like Frankie telling you being goth is liking rot and decay, but then she's disgusted about the task of having to clear out the fridge. I don't think it's sloppy writing in this case, but a flawed character. Listen, you do and say stupid things when you're growing up. I love the relationship between Frankie and her guardian. You see that they've had some difficulties and are very careful with each other, but also open. There are no lies between them, which is cool. Some things felt rushed to me, as if the author had a list in their had that needed to be ticked off, or as if some parts had been written beforehand and needed to be patched together. It would have been nice to have more space for this novel and then get more details. Again, the reason for dnf-ing this book is me, not the story. In different circumstances, I would have read on, so I can give no concluding thoughts. The arc was provided by the publisher.

  13. 4 out of 5

    zuz

    2.5/5 ARC kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley Full review on my blog The writing style is a strong part of this book, though it seems to be targeted rather towards younger readers. This is not a debut release and you can clearly see that Colleen Nelson is an experienced writer. The narration is consistent and the pacing is satisfying, though there’s one thing that bothered me – personally, I didn’t feel the build-up that should’ve led to the climax of the story. Even the plot twist r 2.5/5 ARC kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley Full review on my blog The writing style is a strong part of this book, though it seems to be targeted rather towards younger readers. This is not a debut release and you can clearly see that Colleen Nelson is an experienced writer. The narration is consistent and the pacing is satisfying, though there’s one thing that bothered me – personally, I didn’t feel the build-up that should’ve led to the climax of the story. Even the plot twist relating to one of the characters fell somewhat flat. I honestly was expecting this to be a story about reincarnation, which would’ve been a very exciting theme to include, but instead we simply learn about Alligator Girl’s history through the protagonist’s dreams. I wish there was a better connection between Frankie and the Circus of Wonders and Marvels. While The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. has some potential, its themes simply weren’t up my alley; if it were otherwise, I definitely would’ve upped my rating by one star. Although I wasn’t the right reviewer for this novel, I tried to stay objective. Expected publication: April 13, 2021

  14. 5 out of 5

    Layla

    I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. **Trigger warning for themes of sexual assault and child exploitation. They aren't main themes of the story however if these are triggering for you in any way, perhaps consider not reading it. I went into this not knowing so hopefully this will help others in making their choice to read this book.** 3.5/4 Stars. A moving and fantastical tale, that was filled with mystery. I thought that this was going to be more 'travelling sho I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. **Trigger warning for themes of sexual assault and child exploitation. They aren't main themes of the story however if these are triggering for you in any way, perhaps consider not reading it. I went into this not knowing so hopefully this will help others in making their choice to read this book.** 3.5/4 Stars. A moving and fantastical tale, that was filled with mystery. I thought that this was going to be more 'travelling show magical fantasy' and less set in the real world. But I did enjoy how the story unfolds, how the main character, Frankie, grows and discovers more about herself and her past. It was a quick and easy to read story, well written and filled with emotion. It is easy to connect to the characters, their motivations and dreams. I did find the 'villain' a little lacklustre, I wanted perhaps a little more from him, to build up to the ending. But all in all, I really enjoyed this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Ruth (I need all the book boyfriends please)

    The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. by Colleen Nelson is an interesting exploration into the fantasy genre tackling the intricacies of foster care and child development. Frankie is a really intense character that I enjoyed reading about. She lives with foster mom, Kris, and has a skin condition called Lamellar Ichthyosis which creates scale like skin that sheds. Frankie is an artist and after a few interesting occurrences with different people she is meeting in strange ways, she starts to draw out The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. by Colleen Nelson is an interesting exploration into the fantasy genre tackling the intricacies of foster care and child development. Frankie is a really intense character that I enjoyed reading about. She lives with foster mom, Kris, and has a skin condition called Lamellar Ichthyosis which creates scale like skin that sheds. Frankie is an artist and after a few interesting occurrences with different people she is meeting in strange ways, she starts to draw out images from recurring dreams she is having that may be the common link to all her problems. This book is a story of discovering one's past coupled with some major twists and turns that keep the reader on their toes. My only complaint, really just something that irked me, was that the fantasy story being relived in this book completely overwhelmed the actual irl story revealed at the end. The ending was really rushed and I didn't feel like the important issues were given enough attention.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Julien

    I'm not really sure where to start on this one...I have mixed feelings on how I should rate it and feel. I liked this book and the overall storyline. I really enjoyed the Egyptian history and the plot twists, but they felt predictable and almost underexplored. Anyone could have Googled the information in here, and besides the medical condition, everything was an easy Wiki-Page search away. I do wish there was more about what Frankie discovers about her family. It was a harsh side story that was r I'm not really sure where to start on this one...I have mixed feelings on how I should rate it and feel. I liked this book and the overall storyline. I really enjoyed the Egyptian history and the plot twists, but they felt predictable and almost underexplored. Anyone could have Googled the information in here, and besides the medical condition, everything was an easy Wiki-Page search away. I do wish there was more about what Frankie discovers about her family. It was a harsh side story that was really underdeveloped. Overall it was an okay read and I feel like others would really love it, just not entirely me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Azra Benić

    I would like to thank Colleen Nelson and net galley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review. The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. is a bit of all genres, the two that stood out the most would be thriller and mystery. We follow Frankie a foster child who is now in her 3rd foster home with a dark and mysterious past. Frankie was found in an alleyway around the age of ten with a rare skin condition malnourished and dehydrated with a severe concussion. After resting and recovering in the I would like to thank Colleen Nelson and net galley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review. The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. is a bit of all genres, the two that stood out the most would be thriller and mystery. We follow Frankie a foster child who is now in her 3rd foster home with a dark and mysterious past. Frankie was found in an alleyway around the age of ten with a rare skin condition malnourished and dehydrated with a severe concussion. After resting and recovering in the hospital they soon found she could not recall anything from her past. I cannot say I saw the ending coming. I enjoyed the plot that involved Egyptian mythology intertwined into a historical fiction part. The book itself felt very well researched and not for a moment did I doubt factuality of the historical parts of the life and deaths of Frankie D. The first 100 or so pages were more of an explanation and the ending felt rushed. I do believe that if the book were longer by like 300 or so pages and the story was more stretched out it would be so much better. Besides that, it was honestly a really good book. I recommend this book to people who love diversity and scary mysterious that leave you wondering how.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)

    Rated 2.5 really. Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: Goes in a different direction than one would expect. Balances the magical adventure at its core with themes of self-acceptation, (found) family and friendship. Cons: Tries to do too many things at once and doesn't dwell on any of them enough. A few incidents are too convenient to ring true. WARNING! Sexual assault (off page). Almost-death by fire. Will appeal to: Fans of circus narratives/sideshow acts and goth girl Rated 2.5 really. Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: Goes in a different direction than one would expect. Balances the magical adventure at its core with themes of self-acceptation, (found) family and friendship. Cons: Tries to do too many things at once and doesn't dwell on any of them enough. A few incidents are too convenient to ring true. WARNING! Sexual assault (off page). Almost-death by fire. Will appeal to: Fans of circus narratives/sideshow acts and goth girls. First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Dundurn Press for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way. THROWING A CURVE TLADOFD is a story told in double point of view - the one of the eponymous main character, and another one that I won't spoil for you, but that has everything to do with an old sideshow whose performers used to be regarded as "freaks". While I've never read a book (partially) set in a circus - or, well, a carnival venue - before, I'm aware of the tropes attached to this kind of narrative, and none of them were employed when it comes to the final denouement, because the truth about Frankie and her connection to the sideshow turned out to be different from anything I would have expected. On the other hand, the general atmosphere of the circus setting and its characters (with their magical turnabout) weren't particularly imaginative/fleshed out, and though the story was not about them, it would have been nice to spend a little more time with the troupe members and get the chance to see past their uncomplicated façades. There was virtually a lot to unpack, but alas, not enough time to do it. I have to admit I was taken by surprise by a certain character and their agenda, though I should probably have seen it coming; then again, since I wasn't able to foresee the connection between Frankie and the carnival in the first place, it makes sense that I didn't - so kudos to the author for being able to cover her tracks. [...] Whole review here.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Faith Noelle

    This book definitely pulled me in with its interesting premise. Initially I was expecting it to be a book about reincarnation, which is not the case, but the actual premise is nonetheless intriguing. Frankie is a girl whose entire past is a blank slate, when suddenly she starts having dreams about a traveling freak show from the 1920s and a girl named Frances (aka Alligator Girl) whom has the same rare skin condition that she does. I love the mystery element of the story, and that the reader get This book definitely pulled me in with its interesting premise. Initially I was expecting it to be a book about reincarnation, which is not the case, but the actual premise is nonetheless intriguing. Frankie is a girl whose entire past is a blank slate, when suddenly she starts having dreams about a traveling freak show from the 1920s and a girl named Frances (aka Alligator Girl) whom has the same rare skin condition that she does. I love the mystery element of the story, and that the reader gets to put together pieces of Frankie's story along with her through her dreams. I think figuring out what happened to Frances was even more intriguing to me than Frankie's present day story. But as a whole I think the story balanced mystery well with modern high school drama and mythical folklore. This book actually gives me slight Percy Jackson plus Miss Peregrine's vibes, so if you're a fan of either of those then I think you might enjoy this one. I'll be honest, it took me a little while to connect to Frankie as a narrator. But even though in many ways she is different – a goth foster kid with a rare skin condition and no memory of life before age 10 – there is something relatable in the way she struggles to deal other kids and family and that deep desire to belong. What really connects me with her are the other characters. Her foster mom, Kris, is absolutely incredible and I loved reading about the ways she supported Frankie. There are moments where Frankie stands up not just for herself, but for others that shows her real heart. I also think she has a strong and consistent voice that shines throughout the novel. I also really liked the way the author balanced Frankie's voice with that of Frances, the narrator of the dreams. As a whole I do think the mystery of the plot was more interesting to me than the characters themselves, which is usually not the case with me, but it did manage to balance itself out to keep me engaged. The book also touches upon some pretty heavy topics, like depicting trauma responses, sexual assault, bullying, etc. I do think these depictions were portrayed pretty accurately. These topics are more part of subplots than the main plots, so I don't know if others would prefer more focus on them in the story, but I think what was there was done well and gave a little more depth. And while topics are heavy, it's done in a way that still feels appropriate for younger YA readers as well. As a whole, this book is paced well and easy to get through, and discovering the histories of Frankie and Frances was really fun to do. I'd definitely recommend it. 4/5 stars.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marije

    To me Frankie wasn't the most likable main character, especially in the beginning of the story. A lot of her character consisted of being a poor orphan girl who's goth and hates everyone but her foster mum. She did however soften towards the end of the book, which was mainly because of her good relationship with her foster mum. It's also because she became friends with a girl, who Frankie thought was a preppy mean girl, but turned out to be a sweet friend. I think benefitted Frankie's character To me Frankie wasn't the most likable main character, especially in the beginning of the story. A lot of her character consisted of being a poor orphan girl who's goth and hates everyone but her foster mum. She did however soften towards the end of the book, which was mainly because of her good relationship with her foster mum. It's also because she became friends with a girl, who Frankie thought was a preppy mean girl, but turned out to be a sweet friend. I think benefitted Frankie's character growth and made her seem more realistic. Unfortunately I felt like a lot of the side characters were a bit flat. Frankie's mum mainly made an appearance when Frankie needed some support. Throughout the book Frankie explained how much her mum meant to her and how their relationship works, and I think this made her mum a more realistic character, though I did wish we got to see more of her. The other characters were quite flat to me since they weren't a big part of the story. Those who did have some personality to them just seemed to have one character trait, such as Monsieur Duval being a horrible person. The other characters really were just there to support the plot. The plot of the book was very straightforward. I was a bit dissapointed when the whole secret was revealed at the end, even before the final big conflict, like you have near the end of loads of stories. There was a lot of building up and it was super intriguing, because the author included Egyptian mythology, a mental connection between two characters who lived in different times and a mysterious circus. I must say that I loved the two different storylines in the book: the one where we follow Frankie and the other where we follow the 'Alligator Girl'. I love historical fiction, so mixing a bit of history into the book definitely gave the book some bonus points. The world building wasn't fantastic. I would've liked the author to use more descriptive language, as I'll also note in the next paragraph. As an example I would note the circus, which I just imagined as a good old circus that shows up in my village once a century, rather than something mysterious and magical, like The Night Circus or Caraval. Normally I don't write about writing style in my reviews, because I never really notice when an author's writing style is supposedly bad or good (there are exceptions), but I do want to make a quick note here. I do not think the writing style was bad. In fact, it was pretty okay. There were, however, some passages with such short sentences that it seemed like the book would be middle grade rather than young adult. The majority of the book had better structured sentences, since they were longer, more descriptive, and just a bit more complex. Lastly I want to touch upon the genre of this book, because it felt a bit out of place. The book is aimed towards young teens, so 12+. The writing style fits in with that quite well, but there were some topics used in this book that, in my opinion, aren't appropriate for a middle grade (sexual assault). Over all I thought this was an okay read, and I would recommend it if the synopsis sounds super interesting to you.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sibella

    Review also appears on my blog https://reviewsofyabooks.blogspot.com/ *Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me access to this title in exchange for honest review. Introduction Nothing about Frankie's life has ever been normal. As a child, she was found in an alley with no memory of who she was, who her family was, or why she would be left alone. Years later, she still has no idea about what happened in her past, and she'd like to keep it that way. But then, she starts having dreams Review also appears on my blog https://reviewsofyabooks.blogspot.com/ *Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me access to this title in exchange for honest review. Introduction Nothing about Frankie's life has ever been normal. As a child, she was found in an alley with no memory of who she was, who her family was, or why she would be left alone. Years later, she still has no idea about what happened in her past, and she'd like to keep it that way. But then, she starts having dreams about a hundred year old circus. It shouldn't have anything to do with her, but somehow it all feels strangely familiar as she sees the circus through the eyes of a sideshow act. Could the dreams of this circus be the thing that unveils the mystery shrouding Frankie's past? Will she even be able to face the past she's buried so deeply? Content This book feels like it would be better aimed at a middle grade audience than a young adult one, but because of a few mature scenes, it has to be labelled young adult rather than middle grade. This book mentions three different instances of assault on different characters, so it would be a bit too heavy for middle grade readers. Unfortunately, the rest of the story feels like a middle grade novel, so it feels a little immature for those wanting to read a young adult novel, save for the instances of assault. Pacing The pace was very fast, which was great in some ways and a little difficult in others. The fast pace made the heavier events like the assaults feel rushed, and they weren't quite felt at a depth that I think they deserved. The fast pace also made it hard to truly connect to any of the characters. However, the fast pace of the book meant that there was always something going on. There were no parts of the book that felt unnecessary or like they were there just to take up space, which I liked. Characters I thought our protagonist, Frankie, was okay. Parts of her character felt a little immature, like how she referred to pretty much all girls as an "April" Things like this definitely contributed to the story feeling more like a middle grade novel. However, I adored seeing how fiercely she cared about Kris and Jessica. Kris was my absolute favourite because it was obvious how much she cared for Frankie, and I loved that she had a role in the book, so many books introduce parents because they feel like they have to, but don't really give them any character, so it was really nice to see a guardian have some personality. Conclusion Overall, I thought this book was okay. The fast pacing makes it a very easy read, so if that's what you're looking for, this book might be for you.

  22. 4 out of 5

    WallofText

    {Digital copy provided by NetGalley and Dundrum Press} Frankie is a loner with an equally enigmatic and painful past that lead her to her current foster mom, a brilliant woman named Kris. But strange dreams, a mysterious curiosity circus, and new friends kick off a wild and engaging tale of past lives, immortality, and what it means to be different in an often cruel world. This book has a lot of representation, from multiple Egyptian characters to the foster mom being gay, and as expected of a s {Digital copy provided by NetGalley and Dundrum Press} Frankie is a loner with an equally enigmatic and painful past that lead her to her current foster mom, a brilliant woman named Kris. But strange dreams, a mysterious curiosity circus, and new friends kick off a wild and engaging tale of past lives, immortality, and what it means to be different in an often cruel world. This book has a lot of representation, from multiple Egyptian characters to the foster mom being gay, and as expected of a story partially centered around a curiosity show, a lot of disabled characters. I can’t quite tell if the representation is done well or not for the groups that I am not a part of, but I can say that I really appreciated Kris as a character, someone three dimensional, driven, hardworking, nerdy, and caring. Frankie as a narrator is a little overly analytical in a detached sense, but that’s me being picky. The dualing narrative of her figuring out the mystery, and the life of Frances she observes in her dreams is really well done in terms of suspense and emotional resonance. Especially the scenes focusing on Frances’ relationship with her proxy parents was very well done and impactful. The mystery was really intriguing, although the narrative was a bit stiff at times, and some plot points were a little unconvincingly done. The villain of the story could have been more multi-dimensional, and the ending was somewhat flat at times. I really appreciated the way abuse and sexual assault were dealt with in the book, and how the characters deal with stuggles throughout. Also having a story centered heavily on found family, foster care, and adoption was really resonant. Overall, an interesting short read with a few narrative weaknesses.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stacey-Lea

    The Life and Deaths of Frankie D follows two stories of brave girls just trying to make it in their world. We predominately see the world through Frankie Doe’s experience, and she’s had it pretty rough. After being found in alley when she was ten, Frankie has no memory of her life before and is put into the foster system. We find her now seventeen and living with Kris when she starts having these very vivid dreams of a ringmaster and his circus of freaks, haunting but not too troublesome. That The Life and Deaths of Frankie D follows two stories of brave girls just trying to make it in their world. We predominately see the world through Frankie Doe’s experience, and she’s had it pretty rough. After being found in alley when she was ten, Frankie has no memory of her life before and is put into the foster system. We find her now seventeen and living with Kris when she starts having these very vivid dreams of a ringmaster and his circus of freaks, haunting but not too troublesome. That is until she comes across Gus who seems to dream of the same man and then haltingly, seeing the man himself, in the flesh. And so, the mystery begins. The mystery element of Frankie’s life and how it connects to her dreams was what really held this book together. Nelson feeds new information through Frankie’s dreams and just the right times to keep you invested in the story and wondering who can you really trust? There was definitely a lot of build up, with far less time spent following through. But for what it is, it works. I really felt for Frances, our girl in the 1920s, and her want to have a life of her own, where who she is a person is more important that what she is. Frankie on the other hand is a strong and determined character, and a great lens into the story. I’m a little stuck on the target audience for this. Seeing that it’s aimed for 12-15 year olds, majority of the story would be absolutely fine, but this read a little older to me, especially through Jessica’s storyline specifically, though I’m not sure 16+ would have as much interest. In any case, if you enjoy a little history on freakshows/circus oddities and mystery elements then don’t be shy of picking this one up. Still enjoyable and a nice simple read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    MaryLou Driedger

    The Life and Deaths of Frankie D is a novel for young adults that opens up all kinds of worlds for readers. You learn about a rare genetic disease called lamellar ichthyosis that results in a person having scaly almost reptilian skin. The story's protagonist Frankie adopts a goth persona that frees her to wear heavy make-up to cover up evidence of her condition. So as you read The Life and Deaths of Frankie D you discover more about goth culture. Frankie lives with her foster mother Kris who is The Life and Deaths of Frankie D is a novel for young adults that opens up all kinds of worlds for readers. You learn about a rare genetic disease called lamellar ichthyosis that results in a person having scaly almost reptilian skin. The story's protagonist Frankie adopts a goth persona that frees her to wear heavy make-up to cover up evidence of her condition. So as you read The Life and Deaths of Frankie D you discover more about goth culture. Frankie lives with her foster mother Kris who is a social worker, and as a result, we are exposed to some of the inside workings of the foster care system and gain an understanding of how it impacted Frankie's life before she came to live with Kris. Frankie is having these strange dreams which will eventually help her learn about her past. In Frankie's dreams, we enter the world of circus sideshows or 'freak shows' as they were called nearly a century ago when people's unique physical attributes were exploited for monetary gain. The only physical item Frankie has from her past is a necklace with an ancient Egyptian symbol and as she tries to piece together its possible meaning we learn about ancient Egypt, in particular the process of mummification. Colleen also addresses issues of bullying and sexual abuse and we are given a glimpse into the world of graphic novels as Frankie a talented artist, tries to make sense of the dreams she is having by drawing them out in the graphic novel form. Have I made it sound like Colleen has to juggle a whole lot of subjects and ideas and storylines in her novel The Life and Deaths of Frankie D? Well she does and her long experience as a writer of books for young people of all ages makes it look easy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. in exchange for an honest review! First off, I hope you know I wanted to love this book so badly. I was overjoyed to get approved for the ARC. I eagerly awaited reaching it on my TBR. I may or may not be procrastinating a big paper for school right now so I could read and review it slighter earlier. Reincarnation, mysteries, and circuses? I couldn't wait. Unfortunately, this is the kind of YA that's written like a m Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. in exchange for an honest review! First off, I hope you know I wanted to love this book so badly. I was overjoyed to get approved for the ARC. I eagerly awaited reaching it on my TBR. I may or may not be procrastinating a big paper for school right now so I could read and review it slighter earlier. Reincarnation, mysteries, and circuses? I couldn't wait. Unfortunately, this is the kind of YA that's written like a middle grade but has too much YA content to be put there. Everything is written in this very matter of fact, shallow manner that leads to a lot of really cringey moments (particularly to Frankie discussing her goth life style and the other girls at school) and at worst mean that some of these books more serious aspects fall really, really flat. There are 3 characters in this who are sexually assaulted and because of the fast pacing and lack of depth in the narrative, none of them felt like they were handled well enough to warrant the young audience this should be targeted at being exposed to that heavy of material. I'm not saying middle grade can't tackle serious topics, but even in YA it needs to be handled incredible well and be done for a very clear reason and it just didn't feel like it was here. I'm not saying I think the author was trying to exploit sexual assault or somehow capitalize off of it because its handled respectfully and she writes about her intent to bolster the #metoo movement in the author's note, but just because the inclusion of potentially triggering content was well intentioned doesn't mean it was well written.

  26. 5 out of 5

    janetsa

    Thank you, NetGalley for this ARC of The Life and Deaths of Frankie D! The cover and synopsis are really what got me intrigued, hooked, and more. But once I read it, I felt like this book should really go more for Middle-Grade rather than Young Adult. The characters and world-building are all very interesting, I found the concept of this dream-world and trying to find Frankie's other life very intriguing to read, but the more I found out about her character during the first half, the less I like Thank you, NetGalley for this ARC of The Life and Deaths of Frankie D! The cover and synopsis are really what got me intrigued, hooked, and more. But once I read it, I felt like this book should really go more for Middle-Grade rather than Young Adult. The characters and world-building are all very interesting, I found the concept of this dream-world and trying to find Frankie's other life very intriguing to read, but the more I found out about her character during the first half, the less I liked this book. Her entire personality at first consists of her character being goth, and no one else is goth-like her (which is kind of outdated, in the year 2020, because no one really cares if you're goth or not) and her life with her foster mom. Some of the side characters mainly fell flat as well, most of them like her foster mom and Max didn't really strike me as an important character to remember. The plot also kind of fell flat for me too. I felt like it was too focused on the world-building and on Frankie's character and her problem with her dreams that when it came to the final conflict that it just kind of wasn't what I was anticipating. Although I do have to say that I did enjoy the parallels between Frankie's life and the 'Alligator's Girl' and I liked how the author included Egyptian mythology. I did find that really interesting and what saved my attention at the end. I did enjoy this book, but I feel like the genre didn't quite fit the audience it was targeted. Instead of Young Adult, I can see this book going for Middle Graders 12+.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Veight

    Different is unique. Different is beautiful. Everybody wants to belong, even Frankie who keeps people at arm's length. Frankie D is 17 years old, has a rare skin condition and was found as a child with no recollection of who she is. She starts having recurring dreams about an old timey carnival sideshow, and feels connected to a performer name Alligator girl and the ringmaster. Then she runs into the ringmaster, in real life! The carnival exists! Are the dreams her brain processing her trauma, are Different is unique. Different is beautiful. Everybody wants to belong, even Frankie who keeps people at arm's length. Frankie D is 17 years old, has a rare skin condition and was found as a child with no recollection of who she is. She starts having recurring dreams about an old timey carnival sideshow, and feels connected to a performer name Alligator girl and the ringmaster. Then she runs into the ringmaster, in real life! The carnival exists! Are the dreams her brain processing her trauma, are they memories or maybe even something more complicated, more bizarre? Frankie pulls at your heartstrings from the get-go. You especially admire her bravery with a touch of... let's call it slightly sarcastic sass. Can a narrative be mellow, thought-provoking, and intense at the same time? This narrative is and that makes it easy to gobble up the pages. The mysterious atmosphere makes you do so hungrily, cause you just need to know what is going on. My only quibble is that close to the middle of the book the flashes of the past, as captivating as they are, start to overpower the other part of the story. Frankie was gungho with solving the mystery at the beginning and then it seems she's doing nothing but dreaming & sketching. It makes the story uneven and takes a little oomph out of it. Luckily it picks up again. Asking the age-old question "Is this the only life?", this story plays with the concepts of life and death and destiny. Being a champion for compassion, this is an undeniably creative and emotionally gifted tale, with a dash of chills and unexpected thrills. All leading to an unpredictable and suspenseful finale. A great read I must say.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lu

    Thank you Dundurn and NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book! TW: violence, assult, death, slut-shaming Frankie is seventeen years old and after years in foster care and bad experiences, she doesn't trust easily. Found in an alley when she was a child, with no memory about her self and her past, she seems to have found her place with her foster mother, Kris, even though she is still struggling with her past and trust issues. When she starts having recurring dreams about a man, a car Thank you Dundurn and NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book! TW: violence, assult, death, slut-shaming Frankie is seventeen years old and after years in foster care and bad experiences, she doesn't trust easily. Found in an alley when she was a child, with no memory about her self and her past, she seems to have found her place with her foster mother, Kris, even though she is still struggling with her past and trust issues. When she starts having recurring dreams about a man, a carnival side show and a performer, known as Alligator Girl, she finds them eerily familiar. Is her mind processing her past traumas or is there something real and is she in danger? This book was very peculiar, swinging from past to present, from Frankie's POV to Frances', mixing myth, traumas and reality in a compelling story. Frankie is a really interesting main character. Hurt and abused, cautious, with her attitude, using her clothes and makeup as a shield against the world, fearing being hurt again. When these dreams start her life is abruptly changed, broadening her whole world. The story was captivating ans it was really intriguing reading about Egypthians myths and legends. I liked how the author tackled the issue of how messy the foster care system can be, how, in the past, people with disabilities were seen as "freaks" and "monsters", how hurtful is not being believed by others. It's a book about pain and facing it, moving on, family bonds and fighting for freedom.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin (beetleandbooks)

    This book is different to what I’d usually read but the front cover drew me in, so I needed to find out more. I really enjoyed it! I was intrigued by this story from the very first page, it is fast paced and gets into the narrative quickly. The mystery of Monsieur Duval is exciting and I couldn’t wait for my questions to be answered! Frankie is a vulnerable, quiet young woman who is going through a lot within her life. From a rare skin condition, to not knowing who her family is. Throughout the This book is different to what I’d usually read but the front cover drew me in, so I needed to find out more. I really enjoyed it! I was intrigued by this story from the very first page, it is fast paced and gets into the narrative quickly. The mystery of Monsieur Duval is exciting and I couldn’t wait for my questions to be answered! Frankie is a vulnerable, quiet young woman who is going through a lot within her life. From a rare skin condition, to not knowing who her family is. Throughout the storyline, Frankie’s skin condition plays a bit part. There are some subtle moments that teach you to accept and love yourself, for who you are. I think for a YA book, this is extremely important and I loved that Nelson did this. Nelson’s writing is very enjoyable and easy, I was able to visualise these characters in my mind very vividly, which did add to the magic! I read this book within 24 hours. My only criticism would be that I felt the ending was a little rushed. The book allows you to get to know the characters and their story but then there’s a sudden abrupt reveal that brings the whole story together. Overall I still enjoyed the ending and finding out Frankie’s mysterious past. The last sentence was charming and made me smile, I would like to know what happened with Frankie next. A sequel maybe? 4/5 stars!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Inkpot Blogger

    There are so many fascinating elements to this story. I love the character of Frankie because it is not often that we see a teenage goth that is not a total stereotype and as the main protagonist. Her first-person perspective is done very well, she is layered and complex, her background slowly unravelling, and her thoughts and reactions felt authentic to me. There is some great character development throughout the novel as she comes to accept her skin condition and regains the ability to trust t There are so many fascinating elements to this story. I love the character of Frankie because it is not often that we see a teenage goth that is not a total stereotype and as the main protagonist. Her first-person perspective is done very well, she is layered and complex, her background slowly unravelling, and her thoughts and reactions felt authentic to me. There is some great character development throughout the novel as she comes to accept her skin condition and regains the ability to trust the people who care for her. There is a slightly eerie tone to the Egyptian magic which adds another interesting flair, however I think it could have been a little darker and more sinister for more of an impact. My favourite part was the mysterious unravelling of Frankie’s past and what ties her, Max and Jessica together. It was unpredictable and I found the ending unexpected and suspenseful, but for some reason, it lacked the drama and tension I had been hoping for in the final climax. Overall, a really impressive YA novel that blends together pieces of genres from all over the place. It ticked all of my boxes with good characters and a suspenseful plot while covering some heavy issues which left the reader with some additional valuable messages.

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