Title: Ugly Young Thing
Series: Sequel to Never Smile at Strangers
Author: Jennifer Jaynes
Published: March 3, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Allie has already experienced a lifetime of horror, having lost her mother and serial killer brother to mental illness.
Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana, Allie ends up in foster care and is placed with Miss Bitty, an eccentric but kindly older woman who shows her a new direction and brighter future.
But Allie’s new life takes a devastating turn when young women in the area start turning up dead, and she begins to see shadowy figures outside her bedroom. As Miss Bitty grows inexplicably distant, a nagging voice makes Allie wonder if death has found her yet again…or if it never really left her at all.
Read on for my thoughts on Ugly Young Thing. No true spoilers, promise.
Allie’s life has been pretty terrible. Her father had left their family when she was just a baby. Her mother was a prostitute and had been constantly abusive toward Allie. Even though she was stunning even at 15, she had been told for years that she was ugly and grotesque. She believed those lies. In her brother’s final moments of madness, she was convinced he was about to kill her – until he turned the gun on himself. Ending his life and the reign of terror his actions had placed over their small home town. Both her mother and brother were mentally ill, both were killers. Now completely alone, Allie ran. Selling herself to truckers became second nature. It got her away from that place but it could never get that place far from her mind. So, she ran until one awful day in a motel room she was left behind by the one man she thought she could count on. Ready to give up, Allie swallowed a bottle full of prescription pills… but she couldn’t even kill herself. Eventually, she went home. Except – nothing was there for her either.
I actually enjoyed Ugly Young Thing even more than Never Smile at Strangers. (my review link) Told from the viewpoint of several characters, especially the killer’s the follow up novel is compelling, tense, and if possible, even creepier.
We are really given a glimpse into Allie’s mind. What is it like to live with a verbally abusive mother who kills? To be told over and over that you are ugly and worthless – and to see what her mother did to her brother as well. This is one sick family. Allie is truly broken at only 16 and she will be tested many times before the ending of this novel.
As a thriller, mystery Ugly Young Thing held on tight to the tension and fear building in a small town, as well in the main characters. I often thought I knew who the killer “had” to be – only to not see the ending coming at all. This one was very good. And if i read the ending right – there just might be another one coming.
I would recommend ugly Young Thing to anyone who enjoys a thriller high on mind games. I would give it 4 outta 5 on my rating scale.
*I received an e-ARC of Ugly Young Thing from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. That does not change what I think of this novel.*