Take the Fall – Emily Hainsworth – Balzer+Bray – Published 16 February 2016




Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?

My thoughts

This is an edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting, check-over-your-shoulder, add-your-own-cliche-here kind of book. This is ultimately an epic murder mystery, with a huge list of suspects, a twist that came out of nowhere and a surprise ending. It’s dark and kind of disturbing but so easy to read.

The night Sonia was attacked in the forest, her best friend Gretchen was also attacked. Sonia survived, but Gretchen is found dead at the base of the falls. It sparks an investigation and town-wide terror as the police search for those responsible. Top of their list is Marcus Perez, Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend. When he approaches Sonia to help clear his name, she decides it might be the perfect opportunity to find evidence that he did kill her. But as they reluctantly work together, Sonia can’t help but grow more convinced of his innocence. But there are plenty more potential suspects to investigate while they try to piece together what happened that fateful night. 

The suspense starts from the very first chapter, and by the time we are a few chapters in there is a huge list of suspects. While I had my suspicions about who really killed Gretchen, I was never sure. One minute you think you’re right and then you will be doubting all those thoughts. That’s how it is for Sonia as she tries to determine who was where that night and only seems to end up with more possible suspects. There is no shortage of people who wanted Gretchen dead. Even I was kind of glad she was dead by the end of it. The ripples she has left in people’s lives are far reaching and really kind of horrible. I had a bad taste in my mouth towards the end of this book. Like any good murder mystery there is no shortage of depravity. But aside from being an incredibly engaging mystery and suspense this is also a book about bullying, manipulation and abuse, and a warning to be very careful about choosing your friends.

I was desperate to find out who killed Gretchen. I resisted looking ahead, which I am very glad I did because that made the twist such a huge surprise. I had to stop and go back over everything, looking for clues I had missed. It took very clever writing to create this intriguing story. Aside from coming out of nowhere, I’m not sure if I’m entirely happy with the end, not sure I’m meant to be. It was both shocking and thought provoking.

This is predominately a mystery suspense, but there is a small touch of romance. I wasn’t sure the romance would ever develop, and it takes about half the book to do so. I wouldn’t say the romance is the focus or main point of this book, as it is more about highlighting what could have been. And in that way it’s kind of sad. But I won’t say more, because I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it to say, I was totally blown away by this mystery, intrigued and impressed with the writing style.

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Mystery.

Themes: Friendship, crime, family, murder investigations, detective, love and romance.

Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.

Advisory: Violence. Sexual references. Coarse language, f***, s***, a**h***.

Published: 16 February 2016 by Balzer + Bray.

Format: Hardcover, ebook. 368 pages.

ISBN: 9780062094223

Find it on Goodreads