Skye Thorn Has Given Tarot Card Readings For Years, And Now Her Psychic Visions Are Helping The Police Find The Town S Missing Golden Girl It S No Challenge Her Readings Have Always Been Faked, But This Time She Has Some Insider Knowledge The Kidnapping Was Supposed To Be Easy No One Would Get Hurt And She D Get The Money She Needs To Start A New Life But A Seemingly Harmless Prank Has Turned Dark, And Skye Realizes The People She S Involved With Are Willing To Kill To Get What They Want And She Must Discover Their True Identity Before It S Too Late Destiny spun the wheel and did what it wanted, and the rest of us just had to hang on for the ride and do the best we could with the cards we were dealt The Hanging Girl by YA author, Eileen Cook, is an entertaining and very twisty thriller featuring a whip smart and brilliantly flawed central protagonist in eighteen year old Skye Thorn, a girl who ditched her birth name of Candi as soon as she possibly could Despite my opinion on the implausibility of the serpentine course this novel takes waxing and waning throughout there was enough substance between the pages to keep me hooked all the way Skye has a gift for reading people, telling them what they want to hear, seeing if their body language matches their words and ultimately spinning a damn fine story Thegullible element amongst her high school peers can easily be convinced that this equates to some kind of psychic connection and will even hand over ten bucks for the privilege of having their tarot cards read by her As Skye herself says, Destiny is like a boulder Bulky and hard to move It s easier to leave it alone than to try to change it , but in a bid to leave small town Michigan and her life with a mother who is convinced that she has visions and even accepts recompense in the form of PayPal , Skye will do just about anything. Best friends with wealthier college bound Drew, a girl from the other side of town, Skye is determined to move to NYC and share an apartment, so much so that she has already lied to Drew about having savings in the bank Given the big fat juicy lie that still hangs over Skye s head and has passed into town legend, she can ill afford to let Drew down a second time In short, Skye needs to make a quick buck fast An audacious plot is unveiled, with the kidnapped daughter of the local draconian Judge Bonett, seventeen year old Paige, being subject to a ransom demand In tandem with a shadowy figure going by the pseudonym of Pluto, Skye has agreed to conveniently feed some of her bogus visions to the cops, all in the name of getting them invested in her talents and delivering a well timed uptick in Paige s imminent risk of harm Judge Bonett is about to launch his bid for office as a Republican candidate and author Eileen Cook s thinly veiled swipes in the name of making political capital bring nothing to the novel Paige Bonett is the spoilt blonde haired queen bee of the popular girls, but with a reputation for her habit of taking off and unreliability, it appears that it will take some time for Skye s revelations to agitate the cops.Whilst it is one thing to accept the unworldly teenagers of high school being drawn into the ruse of Skye s gift, the problem comes when she moves onto the cops, teachers and adult figures, which is a far harder proposition to swallow To see her hoodwinking the cops and Judge Bonett requires a severe suspension of disbelief Welcome amusement is however added by the susceptibility of school counsellor, Mr Lester, to Skye s talents and her zany mother, Susan, a woman who swiftly jumps on the bandwagon of assisting the police and courting the media By this point, The Hanging Girl, was losing its grip on me, reliant on the fact that Skye was so easily being taken seriously by the cops and steering dangerously close to being a carbon copy of the synopsis of Linwood Barclay novella, Never Saw It Coming However, things are turned on their head when the identity of the mysterious Pluto is revealed and Judge Bonett fails to cough up what should be a trifling ransom for a man of his wealth From this point onwards my lips are sealed as for optimal enjoyment the reader is best served by witnessing the subsequent flip flop progression which shifts from Skye appearing to hold all the cards to dancing to someone else s tune From what should have been a straightforward execution of a simple ruse, the stakes are well and truly raised when Skye turns from a player into the one being played and it leaves her second guessing not one, but two,ruthless individuals who are pulling the strings If this stress isn t dramatic enough, Paige is then discovered DEAD, something that was most definitely not on Skye s agenda All to quickly, Skye finds herself trying to gauge the motivations of everyone from Paige s ex boyfriend, her competitive best friend and even the undercurrents between her and her father, in order to work out just who killed Paige and whether they are coming after her next..One of the reasons that I have begun to find many of these YA novels such a worthwhile read is because of the author s willingness to craft genuinely realistic and diverse characters and offer something away from the mainstream stereotypes Undoubtedly Skye is an excellent complete package with a complex history and her own battles with anxiety, meaning that as the tension ratchets higher, she is caught up in an associated battle of her mind over Despite her talent for lying and lack of qualms about spouting a host of baloney in the name of psychic visions, at heart, there is an ultimately sympathetic and likeable girl behind Skye s confident persona Evidence comes in the shape of the what kidnapping scam backfiring, leaving her in a moral quagmire and facing a choice of coming clean or being implicated I was really impressed with how Skye s character evolved and learnt from her experiences Suddenly from Skye priding herself on her ability for reading people, peeling back the layers and exposing their insecurities she has been resoundingly beaten at her own game.As for the supporting cast, Eileen Cook bombards her readers with every trope under the sun, from the overly earnest school counsellor, Mr Lester, to the precocious brat tendencies of Paige and her crowd of girlfriends Even with regards to the police investigation there was good cop, Detective Jay and bad cop, Detective Chan, himself a man who deals in facts and has no time for psychic phenomena The character that I was left pondering the most was the enigmatic Drew, and for supposedly being best friends with the obviously intelligent Skye, Drew seemed to be rather vacuous Aside from their domestic circumstances being diametrically opposed there is an obvious lack of chemistry in their dynamic I wan t convinced at all by the friendship when in actual fact, Drew and Skye share each have their own secrets and share next to nothing.Towards the ending, despite the about turn twist in the final pages, I really felt that The Hanging Girl copped out and went a little too heavy on the moralistic element and in the words of one detective to Skye You don t need to tell stories to be special, you know You re a pretty neat kid just the way you are All in all, I suspect that the rather numerous twists will keep a YA audience of around 12 14 years reading, but for anyone over that age bracket this will prove a little too simplistic Compared to the teen girl politics of Megan Abbott, The Hanging Girl just feels a little wooden, and Cook opts for an increasingly convoluted succession of twists I confess to being somewhat miffed and rather let down by the discovery of the killers identity, and whilst it raises questions of whether the prime movers get what they deserve, I wasflummoxed by the killers identify and justification as it seems to appear out of the blue.An underwhelming execution of a plot which had a real abundance of potential I do however plan to readof this author and already have the highly rated, With Malice, awaiting.I received a free copy of this book from Readers First and my review is my honest and unbiased opinion. The joys of living in a small town The bodies of your mistakes rarely stayed buried They had a tendency to pop up when you least expected them. I think Eileen Cook is a real author to watch Her books seem to be flying relatively under the radar so far, but in both this book and With Malice, she s demonstrated her talent for dragging me in and keeping me interested throughout the tale she is weaving In The Hanging Girl, I was hooked pretty quickly Skye s narrative was instantly engaging, showing her to be someone we might not be able to trust and someone willing to lie and manipulate to get what she wants And yet, she is not unlikable I found it very easy to sympathize with her desire for somethingthan what she has I understood the lies she told she created a fictional life for herself a fictional life she wished she had.If you haven t already, I don t recommend reading professional reviews for this book Kirkus and others reveal what I found to be a superb twist It happens only a third of the way in, but I still think it is better to experience it firsthand rather than being spoiled before So I ll be coy about it When a pretty teenager goes missing, Skye tells the police of the psychic visions she has been having about the disappearance, offering clues to the missing girl s whereabouts However, it soon becomes obvious that Skye is involvedthan she is letting on When things take a very unexpected turn, Skye must decide whether to reveal what she knows or continue the deception To be honest, I think naturally suspicious readers will have no problem working out what is going on, but that didn t seem to matter for me Skye was a strong enough narrator and didn t need a surprising conclusion to elevate her story it was enough to wonder what would happen when the truth came out And I found the ending very satisfying.I m sure some will want a different ending for The Hanging Girl Perhapsdrama, definitelyview spoiler justice hide spoiler I wasn t sure which was worse to know you re a liar or to believe your own bullshit For years, Eileen Cook has been my go to for YA thrillers Her stories are decidedly dark and unsettling, yet approachable The Hanging Girl, Eileen Cook s latest edition, is no exception It s a compelling mixture of nail biting suspense and teen angst Richly woven, it ll keep you guessing to the very last page Literally Candi Thorn, better known as Skye, has spent her entire life resenting both her ridiculous name and the kooky mother who bestowed it Desperate to escape small town Michigan, Skye has long planned to move to NYC with her bestie the second the ink dries on her diploma Problem is graduation s fast approaching and Skye s about 30 cents shy of a quarter Slinging fast food and giving out occasional tarot card readings ain t cutting it There enters Code Named Pluto Pluto proposes a deal S he ll kidnap Paige the wild, popular, teenaged daughter of a local judge In exchange, Skye simply has to use her psychic abilities to help police solve the case Ransom money will be evenly divided with Skye earning a cool 12,000 The Big Apple s lights look a tad brighter already Complications arise, however, when Paige s father refuses to cough up the dough And shit really hits the fan when Paige turns up DEAD The Hanging Girl s success is due in no small part to the shrewd, snarky Skye Forced to live with an irresponsible mother who chats with dead people on the reg, Skye spends her days conning cheerleaders for cash with fake tarot card readings Cynical Skye is very much a reaction to her eccentric mother A mother who would rather spend time analyzing auras than paying bills And it s their relationship that s a highlight of the story Their odd couple dynamic makes Skye s personality both realistic and understandable And her deadpan humor brings spark to an otherwise DARK story The girl makes bad decision an artform, yet remains surprisingly likable No small feat.Reminiscent of a teen Gone Girl, Eileen Cook s latest creation is riveting and INTENSE Twists abound and just when you think you have everything figured out, the script is FLIPPED And the ending More than a smidge fucked up Oh Eileen, you never fail to disappoint. 1.5 5 StarsDNF I could not stand this book. The story was all over the place, and the author was obviously trying way too hard to please today s society by giving us this extremely diverse set of characters Don t get me wrong, diversity is GREAT But when every character seems to be deliberately put in there just to make people happy, I don t like it It makes me feel like the story isn t the authors any, but rather that the author was pushed into pleasing society instead of staying true to their vision Not only that, but I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS HAPPENING Honestly, it feels like I ve been picking up all the wrong books lately cause it seems like I m confused with nearly every book I try or I just flat out don t like it But seriously, there were some chapters in this book where you would assume it s in Skye s perspective she s the MC , however you d be told later that that chapter was actually someone else s perspective, and I was like whatSo then, I d backtrack and STILL be confused with that chapter.I decided to just give up once I read a paragraph that was flat out shaming Republican sThe crowd nodded Paige s dad was known as Hanging Bonnet for his harsh way of dealing with people who appeared before him The judge made the national news for his shaming sentences, where he would make criminals do embarrassing things in public to teach them a lesson Now they were saying he was a possible Republican candidate for a Senate seat Ohhh, I see So it s fine to do that to Republican s, right Cause they re harsh and enjoy forcing people to do things Mhm But don t you dare speak badly about Democrats because that s unacceptable It s like, reallyC mon Also, why the heck did that have to be mentioned in there She didn t have to add the political view But it was obvious that Cook was throwing a jab at Republicans, and I m sorry, but that really ticked me off Then again, I think it was unwise on her part to do that, since I m sure I won t be the only one to get annoyed by it.Overall, this was not my type of read The story was too disorganized and I didn t want to finish it You should never read books that irk you There are so many better books out there and I m not one of those people who are finicky about DNFing books If I hate it, I m probably not going to finishing it shrugs Then again, you might like this, so you should still give it a shot.