Cover Image: Jackal


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What an astounding debut! While there were parts in the middle that slowed down the story, I was still hooked until the very end. I really enjoyed Adams' writing style, as well as how deep she went with exploring Liz's story, motivations, desires and doubts. She was able to balance character development with the creepiness of the story, which is always a hard thing to do with horror stories - bravo! The monster in this was very creepy, and reminiscent of many Appalachian tales I've heard growing up in the area - and without giving too much away, I enjoyed the twist she added to the end and what the monster wanted. The level of detail added in to the exploration of small town racism and what Liz and the other black girls have went through just to be heard and recognized was excellent and heartbreaking. This book is more of a thriller with heavy horror elements, but I'd recommend it to fans of both genres.
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This book was not for me.  I did not understand any of the character’s motivations or actions.  I found it to be disjointed and baffling.  The premise was great but the execution just did not land with me.
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I received a copy of the book via NetGalley (thank you Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine,  and Erin E Adams). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was pretty sure this was a four or five star read for me until the last ten percent. The story was creepy and atmospheric, there were breadcrumbs and misdirection and it was fun trying to figure out the story. I just wasn't satisfied with the ending.
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I received a review copy of this book from the author/publisher through NetGalley for my honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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A quick read, and a wild ride.  I enjoyed it, for the most part.  I'm usually not big on social commentary in fiction, but Erin Adams does a good job of blending in into the story without sounding 'preachy'.
A perfect horror novel for our times!
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I liked the mix of mystery, horror and thriller. Amazing debut with discussion about racism and classism. Well written, suspenseful and engaging. It wasn’t enough horror to satisfy me though, that is why I rated it 3.5 stars.
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This book is called a horror book but it's not like the ones we are used to...
This is more about real-life monsters hiding in the shadows, using people's fear and insecurities to haunt them
It has a bunch of major issues involved like social class, hate, fear and racism
Liz's life just became a bit of a mess and is newly single. Having to face her past, fears, and the old town where she grew up. She is so worried about what many are going to think esp her mother about her being single now. Can she face all of her fears and worries head-on? How will this affect her?
POV of the past (1985) and current. Past and present girls' POV which makes it very interesting and the story becomes more like a mystery also. 
Its a good book but had some slow parts which were hard for me (I like more fast-paced books and movies but these parts were needed for the story)
All the girls you will see have something in common 
Can they find out what is really going on?!?!?!

I was able to read this ARC thanks to the publisher and NetGalley and am happy to have had that chance. The above review/opinions are my own, honest, and voluntary.
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I love this cover!! I think I'm landing somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. This was WEIRD. I feel like I need to know going in that a book is magical realism. This book is magical realism. It's pretty normal for like 80% of the book. And then it goes into weird territory and stays there. I don't know how best to explain it without spoilers! lol. But I can't say I didn't enjoy it so 4 stars it is.
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Jackal is a gripping horror right from the first pages. A classic, small town horror with a main character who has scars and fears she can't quite understand. I look forward to more stories from this author!
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Wooooo what a ride! Jackal is twisty and turny and dark. Liz finds herself back in her hometown and confronted with her past, including a string of murders that end in ripped out hearts. Recommended for those into folklore and horror.
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JACKAL by Erin E. Adams
Publication: 10/04/2023
By Random House Group : Ballantine/ Bantam Books
353 pages

        What starts out as a criminal investigation, morphs into a gothic horror story that represents a metaphor for racial and class hatred.   The main protagonist is Liz Rocher, who grew up in racially intolerant Johnstown, PA.  She was one of only a few black girls, and had frequently dealt with the inequities and hatred of having the wrong color skin.  She reluctantly is returning to her hometown to attend her best friend’s wedding… who happened to be white.  Melissa was always her most loyal friend and confidant ….  Her friend is about to marry a black man…. causing an uproar.  At the reception Liz was keeping watch over her beloved goddaughter, Caroline.  After flirting with the bartender, she suddenly realizes Caroline is gone…. Apparently into the nearby woods.  This is horrifyingly too similar to childhood memory of “the other black girl”, Keisha Woodson disappearing into the same woods.  Ultimately she was found in the woods, with her heart gone, and entrails strewn about her body.  The police laughingly concluded that she died from a fall, followed by excessive animal activity.  Some of the community never bought this fairytale.  Many myths and stories arose implicating “monsters in the woods.”  The reception turns into a search party without any viable results.  Point in fact: black girls have gone missing every June for generations.
    It’s hard to believe that this is Erin Adams Debut novel.  Her lyrical prose propels the novel into a page-turner. Without being preachy she explores the real life life issues of inequality, racism and class hatred and intolerance.  The narrative escalates with seeding of multiple red-herring with progressive ratcheting up of suspense and intrigue that escalates into an amazing denouement.  Look out … there is something lurking under your bed.
    Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.  It will be hard for the author to top this gem with her next book.
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*eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review 

Are you looking to read a creepy and thrilling book that will keep you up all night reading?  Then you should read Jackal.  This debut novel has thrills, chills, and I definitely recommend it.

Jackal begins with the main character, Liz, returning to her hometown for her best friend’s wedding.  The wedding seems perfect until her best friend’s daughter, Caroline, goes missing.  Liz worries that Caroline is in danger, especially since young black girls have been murdered in her town for decades.  Can Liz find Caroline before it’s too late?   

Why did I wait so long to read this book?  Jackal has been on my NetGalley tbr for way too long.  I’m happy that I finally got around to reading it because I enjoyed this story.  This was an interesting, creepy, and impactful read that is not your average horror/thriller story.  There are themes of racism and classism throughout the book.  No one in Liz’s hometown seems to care that black girls are being killed year after year.  Liz takes it upon herself to find out what’s really happening in her hometown.  I found the author’s note at the end very interesting as Adams discusses the history of the real Johnstown, and her inspiration for writing this book.  

Jackal was a well written debut novel and I will definitely be reading Adams’s future books.

4/5 stars
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Thank you, NetGalley, for this book.

When Liz Rocher goes back home for a friend’s wedding, her life gets turned upside down in the craziest of ways. I always love a well-written thriller, but the story also includes some horror elements, which is even better. The story revolves around missing Black girls, who the police basically ignore, but when Liz arrives, she begins to put some pieces together.

From Goodreads: It’s watching. Liz Rocher is coming home . . . reluctantly. As a Black woman, Liz doesn’t exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward, passive-aggressive reunions. Liz has grown, though; she can handle whatever awaits her. But on the day of the wedding, somewhere between dancing and dessert, the couple’s daughter, Caroline, disappears—and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood.

It’s taking. As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern: A summer night. A missing girl. A party in the woods. She’s seen this before. Keisha Woodson, the only other Black girl in Liz’s high school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart removed. Liz shudders at the thought that it could have been her, and now, with Caroline missing, it can’t be a coincidence. As Liz starts to dig through the town’s history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls.

It’s your turn. With the evil in the forest creeping closer, Liz knows what she must do: find Caroline or be entirely consumed by the darkness.

I really enjoyed this book, and it definitely left me guessing. And there’s an element to this book that I absolutely won’t reveal because it would ruin so much. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by it, and Adams did an excellent job leading the reader to that reveal. Overall, four stars for this one, and I will be recommending it for sure!
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I thought this was a solid debut from Erin Adams and I know another book is being released this year that I will probably pick up and read. 

But with that said, I find this more of a thriller read than a horror novel as I think it's advertised. The darkness of the woods is for sure creepy but the "creature" seems like it was more forced and put in there because it was advertised as such. I think it would've been better if it stuck to being a thriller; an opportunity to have more plot twists and a few surprises that I think got overshadowed. But as I said, still not a bad debut and the "creature" itself was certainly unique. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5 stars

"Jackal" is a tough book to rate. I liked it enough, but my feelings for it never strayed beyond the like zone.

It's the debut novel of Erin E. Adams, and for a debut, it really is a solid read. It’s well written, engaging, and suspenseful, even while I found other aspects of it lacking.

The problem lies in the fact that "Jackal" wants to be a horror novel but reads too much like a thriller. Here’s the basic premise –

Liz, a young Black woman, returns to her predominately white hometown in Pennsylvania for her best friend’s wedding. But when the couple’s daughter, Caroline, disappears from the reception, Liz notices similarities in Caroline’s case to that of Liz’s classmate who went missing years ago. Soon, Liz uncovers a dark secret: young Black girls have been disappearing from the town for years. Some have never been found; others are later discovered in the woods, their bodies mutilated. Liz, of course, then takes it upon herself to find Caroline before it’s too late.

Typical thriller fare, isn’t it? Where the horror kicks in, though, is through the use of graphic imagery and the introduction of an evil, folkloric presence in the forest.

But there isn’t enough horror in the novel to satisfy me. I wanted mores shivers, more scares, more creep factor, and instead I got … more thriller stuff.

"Jackal" just never hit the right spot.

My sincerest appreciation to Erin E. Adams, Bantam Books, and NetGalley for the digital review copy. All opinions included herein are my own.
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This was a fantastic mix of horror and mystery. I loved every minute of this book. I have been recommending this to as many as I can.
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Thank you @randomhouse @netgalley for my review copy! 

📖 Liz reluctantly goes back home to her small town for her best friend’s wedding. When a young black girl goes missing during the party in the woods, it’s like history repeating itself. Something in the woods is watching, and as Liz digs deeper into the town’s history, she discovers a horrifying past. 

💭 Wow. Talk about a wild read. If I was rating this book solely on its readability, it would be 4-5 stars. I couldn’t put this book down because I had to know what was happening! When I finished though I didn’t really know how I felt about it. Did I love it? Hate it? Maybe a little bit of both. I feel like this is a book you’ll either be blown away by or you’ll hate. It’s definitely one that will stay with me. This is a great book for spooky season! 

📚Read this if you like….
A book you won’t be able to put down! 
What the hell am I reading?! books. 
Racism/classism themes 
Gory crime fiction 

⚠️Content warning for violence/gore. If you have any questions about specifics, feel free to message me.
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Honestly can't remember what made me request this book on Netgalley. I think I received an email saying, "since you read _______, you might like Jackal." I must have liked that first book because it made me think I would enjoy this one. And I did. But for one thing and I'm not sure I can even tell you what it was, without giving away the ending of the book. 

Let's just say that it threw the book into a genre that isn't my usual read. To be fair to the book, Adams gave me plenty of hints that's where she was going. I just kept hoping that the evil would turn out to be something different. Fair enough to say that there's plenty of evil in this book that has nothing to do with fantastical elements. And there are plenty of monsters of all kinds, as Adams uses the horror genre to explore racism. 

Did I hope for a different ending? Yes, slightly. But along the way, Adams had me chasing my tail, trying to figure out who Liz needed to be most afraid of, tossing red herrings out all through the book, making a book that was well worth the read.
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This had me hooked from the beginning and I couldn't stop reading! There have been black girls missing for years and no one has done anything about it. When someone close to Liz goes missing there is only so much time to find her alive. As she digs deeper into the missing girls she finds out just why they are being taken, and hopes to find a way to stop it from happening again.

I ended up listening to the audiobook and I enjoyed it a lot! I didn't LOVE the ending but besides that it was a great read!

Thank you to the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Jackal was deliciously creepy and had me hanging on every word. I will always be hooked by stories of women returning to their small hometowns to face the darkness hiding within it and helping to solve a mystery. This story also had the added element of commentary on racism and prejudice that made it even more compelling and disturbing to read. I loved the voice of the main character Liz, and enjoyed going through this journey with her. The writing is beautiful and poetic, and I was spellbound by the horror aspects of this book. Because it is a horror story, more so than a mystery/thriller. That is where the author shines, in creating a terrifying atmosphere.
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