Cover Image: Litani


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Member Reviews

Satanic cult? Inspired by a chilling true crime?! SIGN ME UP!

As soon as I read Lourey’s author note in the beginning, I was immediately intrigued and hooked! While incredibly dark and disturbing, I was truly fascinated from start to finish. The main topic of child sexual abuse can be a little heavy at times but definitely worth sticking it out!

I found it to be very well paced and the intensity of it made it hard to put down! I can’t wait to read more from her!
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Litani was a dark, heartbreaking page-turner for me. I started it and everything else went by the wayside.. The town and entire atmosphere sucks you in and doesn't let go. The story was inspired by a true crime that happened in the rural  Midwest back in the 1980's.
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This one fell flat for me. Couldn’t really get into the story. Thank you @amazonpublishing for the #ARC!
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Litani was an enjoyable read, if even its subject matter was difficult at times. The small town of Litani, Minnesota felt claustrophobic and hollow, a perfect reflection of the people trapped inside. The “Satanic Panic” theme of the story, though in some ways predictable in 2021, worked in its favor: since it is rare to see it played from the perspective of a child in the thick of it, it helped quell my initial skepticism of how the story would play out.

Where Litani shone most was in the relationships between its characters. Like any teenager, Frankie’s love for her parents was complicated, and her nervousness about the town’s other residents — justified or not — reflected a wisdom far beyond her age. Seeing her blossom by the end was a joy.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a thriller based on true events.
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I knew it would be a Weeping Willow. Deep down where my biggest fears are I just knew. I think Jess Lourey will know exactly what I am saying here. Great book. Dark, but still...

This is a hard review for me to write. Not that it wasn't a very good book. It certainly was. Because of the subject matter. This book is sadly based on real events. Things that really happened. From Satan worshipping to child molesting, to pure outright child rape, it happens. It happened in this book but you won't hear details. You won't have to read what actually happened as it was happening. That would be too much. It's covered and told in a way that you know what happened and you cheer when the perpetrators are caught. This is not exactly a scream from fear kind of story. It's an account of one young girl, Frankie Jubilee. The summer she started living with her mother. After as she says, "she murdered her father." 

This story is set in 1984. The summer. When all things child related seem to change. When Frankie starts living with her mother in a small town in Minnesota. When Frankie learns about children being molested and possibly murdered. When she meets three young girls, just children, who bully her. They want her to play a game. They were forced to play this game and it was not nice. Linda Jubilee is the DA in this town. The one who will go after the people who hurt children. You won't like her for a long time but eventually she grows on you. You don't hate her for going after the bad guys, it's that she seems so indifferent to her own daughter that will get you. She is all business. All work. Seems angry. She is angry.

Frankie is a resilient young girl. She makes herself useful in ways most new to town girls would never do. It's a good thing though. She becomes friends with a boy, Chase. He lives in the trailer park alone. He is a bit edgy and hard for Frankie to read most of the time. But he's a good guy. He tries to protect other. Could Frankie have been so wrong about him. All along putting herself in danger? Seems all the bad comes from the trailer park. Or the biggest part. 

There are lots of things in this story that will make your heart ache. It will make you cry. I had no laughter reading this one. I did do a lot of crying. For the children. Linda Jubilee is working for the children. Or is it her own self she wants heard? Does she love the limelight enough to mess up other people's lives? Can she be a mother to young Frankie? And what really happened to Frankie's dad? Did Frankie really murder her own dad and if so why? 

This was a hard book in so many places but one that was so well written. So well researched. Read the beginning. You have to read Author's Note at the beginning to understand that this really happened but is basically written in a fictional town. Fictional characters who you will love and hate. Some will come as a complete surprise others not so much. It was worth reading. It was worth each tear. Each cringe. Each gasp.

Thank you #NetGalley, #JessLourey, #Thomas&Mercer for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this book.

5/5 stars and I recommend it. It can be a trigger though. But it's not explicit. It's well written. It's very good.
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I’m a little bit late to the Jess Lourey fan club, but I’m definitely a member now!  I went into Litani blind, which I almost never do. For those of you that know me, you know that’s not really my thing, but I’m glad I did for this one, because I was shocked, stunned, and totally committed to knowing what happened. When I finally read the synopsis after finishing, knowing that it’s inspired by a true crime gave me the chills!  If you think that Litani might be for you (and I think it is!), you can read and listen with @kindle_unlimited 🍁 I flipped back and forth between the audio and the e-book, and they’re both a fantastic experience. Read by Cassandra Morris, the audio is suspenseful and totally bingeable.

Thank you for the opportunity to read early and review. Link to Instagram post:
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Litani is a page-turning perfect for readers who tire of thrillers hinging on one huge twist. Although the novel is fairly predictable, the plot feels quite realistic as Lourey was inspired by true events to write this piece. She is a wonderful writer whose prose is compelling, drawing the reader into the story from the very first page and often ending chapters on cliffhangers. 

Lourey also crafts equally intriguing and vile characters, never shying away from dark themes and dysfunctional parent-child dynamics. Writing from a child or teen’s perspective as an adult is not always simple. but Frankie’s voice is conversational and natural, making her easy to identify with. I especially enjoyed how the novel captures the awkward phase Franke is in of developing into a teenager and still holding onto youthfulness. 

While Litani does cover extremely dark themes, there is a fair balance of light-hearted moments between Frankie and some of the people she meets in Litani. The reader gets to spend a lot of time in her head and I got a kick out of all the little non-verbal jokes she made. My enjoyment of the novel was diminished somewhat because it does share very similar plot elements and themes to one of Lourey’s previous novels, Unspeakable Things. I do consider that novel superior, but I’d definitely recommend Litani to readers as well. 

Thanks so much to Netgalley and for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for a review.
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Frankie has been living with her Dad for years after her parents divorced.  Her dad dies and she has to go back to live with her mom.  Little does she know her parents were trying to spare her all the bad things that were going on in this small town.  

Litani was inspired by a true crime story that occurred in Jordan, Minnesota in the 1980's in the Midwest during a time that became known as the Satanic Panic.  Wow.  This book was by no means easy to read.  Jess Lourey tackles a tough topic - child molestation/sexual assault/depression. It is my favorite one she has written so far.  I could not put this down.  Definitely one to put on your list!

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the #gifted #arc copy of the book.
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Content Warnings: Rape, Sexual assault, pedophilia, incest, molestation and neglect.

Difficult to read (due to the context), but a THRILL to read, nonetheless! The author perfectly encapsulates small town Minnesota in the 80s and I was enthralled start to finish. This is not my first Lourey read and it will definitely not be my last! 

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This book was kind of a roller coaster for me. I started off loving it. It had such an ominous, foreboding vibe, and I was instantly sucked in. I also loved the 80’s setting. There were times though where the writing just felt a little “off” to me. I couldn’t really put my finger on what exactly was bothering me about it, it just felt like the writing style was a bit weird and confusing at times. It was enough to start turning me off the book. That, and the dark uncomfortable subject matter. All that said, the book nevertheless kept pulling me in and I always had a hard time putting it down. I absolutely LOVED the incorporation of the illustrations. Every time I saw one, I smiled. They were 100% spot-on with how I envisioned the characters, and I think that’s attributable to the author’s strong character descriptions and character development. By the second half of the book, things started to come together nicely. While the subject matter was still very uncomfortable, the author did a great job of closing up all of the various holes, answering all of the reader’s questions, and showing us some insight into where the characters go from here, even if it wasn’t 100% rosy. Because some of the earlier “choppiness”, I was on track to give this book a rating of 3 out of 5, however the fact that the author provided a suggested music playlist at the end of the book catapulted this up to a 4 for me. That’s something I’ve been saying for years that books should have! This is the perfect book for it too. Such a great way to wrap it up!
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Thank you to Thomas & Mercer, Jess Lourey and Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. 

It's the summer of 1984, and 14 year old Frankie lives in California with her father, a botany professor, when he suddenly passes away. She must then go live with her mother, whom she hasn't seen in seven years, a workaholic, absentee county prosecutor in the small Minnesota town where her parents grew up. From the onset, their relationship is strained and hollow. Frankie feels alone, as if she has nothing left, except "The Book," a fun project she worked on with her father, where they recorded people's personalities as different plants and flowers. As Frankie slowly adjusts, she notices that things seem off in the town. She hears rumors about "The Game," pentagrams, children going missing and is told not to play with grownups. Is there something going on in this small town and will Frankie figure out what it is? 

This is the third book I've read by Jess Lourey as I really enjoyed the first two, Unspeakable Things and Bloodline. When I first read the inspiration for Litani, I instantly thought of season one of True Detective. The book is inspired by the "Satanic" panic that swept across the nation in the 80s, largely due to mass hysteria and false allegations and a case that took place close to the author's hometown. The author intended for the novel to show the victim's viewpoint instead of the lawyers, cops or accused. 

In addition to the intriguing storyline, I also really enjoyed the plant profiles the author included. It was really interesting learning about different plants and flowers and what they can be used for (i.e. tea made from a daisy helps soothe an upset stomach). I thought the author did a nice job of tying the plant information into the story. The author also included a playlist at the end of the book featuring classic 80s music. 

While I appreciate the younger viewpoint, I don't think it worked as well here as it did in Unspeakable Things. Frankie's voice comes across as much too innocent and naive. The whole book in general seems very tame and toned down compared to what it could have been. I expected more exploration into the emotional trauma the children experienced. Thankfully, the abuse is never shown but implied. 

Overall, the book is good, but it isn't as exciting or captivating as her previous novels. I don't know if that has to do with the age of the chosen narrative or that it felt like the focus of the novel was Frankie, recovering from the loss of her father, establishing a relationship with her mother and making friends, than truly about the victims. Knowing the backstory, source material and author's intention, I just expected more. 

3½ stars 
Recommended for fans of: psychological thrillers, suspense, the author's previous works, general fiction, family based novels, early 80s history, women's fiction
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Litani by Jess Lourey is based on true events that occurred in 'Litani', Minnesota and deals with the horrible reality of child abuse. It is not an easy book to read. The writing was exceptional, dark and intense but it wasn't engrossing and  had me zoning out a couple of times. The author perfectly sets the scene of the 80's and effortlessly transports you there. 

This is my first book by Jess Lourey and I am looking forward to reading 'Bloodline'  which was released earlier this year and has received rave reviews.

I received an eARC from @netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This comes out tomorrow 10/19/21.

TW - Rape, Sexual assault, pedophilia, incest, molestation and neglect.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Jess Lourey and Thomas & Mercer for the free e-book in exchange for an honest review.

This is my first novel by this author, but I can honestly say after this novel that it will not be my last. I have heard amazing things about her books and now I understand why. The plot was very dark and the town was definitely messed up in so many ways, but the chapters were short and overall, it was a really quick read. I loved the characters, even the ones that come off as hateful in the beginning. This definitely has a few trigger warnings and the subject matter won't be easy for everyone to read, but the author handled it very tastefully as there was no unnecessarily graphic scenes. I also liked that the author had a note in the beginning of the novel and I highly recommend you read it. I will be getting her entire backlist promptly.
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Litani is the new book from Jess Lourey. This book was inspired by true crime events that happened in the rural Midwest in the 80s.

"After her father dies, 14-year-old Frankie is sent to live with her mother in Litani, MN. The same mother that abandoned her when she was five. Frankie can sense right away that something is off about the town. People are jittery and there are no children playing outside. Her mother warns her to stay out of the woods and other adults. People whisper about The Game but no one will tell Frankie what it is. The more time she spends in Litani - the more she thinks the monsters are all around..."

This book was tough to read. Anytime there is abuse or violence against children I struggle. Any mention is always implied - there is nothing graphic - but it's still tough. Lourey explains the story and the reasons for it in the acknowledments. I think you write about the monsters so that others can recognize them when they see them.
Frankie is a great character. She carries a heavy burden and just wants her mother to act like she cares. Her mother, Linda Jubilee, the county prosecutor, has her own burdens and demons. 
I like that Lourey doesn't tie everything up with a pretty bow. She allows the characters to be realistic and still affected bythe things that happened to them.

If you liked Lourey's previous books you would probably like this one. If you're interested in some 80s hysteria and drama you may want to read this one.

An emotional read from Lourey.
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I really enjoyed the writing, just on point, the content and the conversation behind is totally appreciated, especially after reading the author's note, saying how most of the time the crimes are more focused on the police investigation and the perpetrator but the victims are almost forgotten 👌 very good point.

I was a little uncomfortable reading from a 14 years old girl perspective, however, the author did well in portraying Frankie's inocense and priorities.

I can't say it was thrilling, if you're going with that expectation you might be disappointed, it was more like a story of how a child sees things happening around them, although I think it could have gone deeper into the emotional trauma of what they went through.

Overall a good read, just not great for me 🙋🏽‍♀️
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Jess Lourey has become one of my very favorites authors. In addition to writing the most thrilling novels she is a kind, genuine and wonderful and gracious person. 

She can’t write her next book fast enough for me. 

Bravo Jess
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I don't really enjoy reading stories like this one. You know, the usual trigger warnings: kids in danger, Satan worship, creepy adults. Who do you trust? On the other hand, Jess Lourey is crafting such interesting stories, inspired by (gulp) true stories, populated with interesting characters and masterful plots that it's difficult to stay away. And once you start reading, you daren't put it down or look away.

So here we are. Another book that creeped me out and I can only recommend to the more adventurous or tolerant of my friends. Yet, I will probably vote for it as one of the best books of the year.
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This book is really hard for me to pin down exactly what genre it is. 
Young adult? It is all through the eyes of a 14 year old.
Mystery? Thriller? Drama?
I enjoyed it, and read it quickly, but was never quite sure where it was going with the story. 
I was very invested in Frankie and what would happen to her. I felt so bad for her but then there were lots of times I wanted to yell at the book when she or other characters made dumb decisions. 
Most of the mysteries had not-so-surprising or shocking reveals.
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Loosely based on a true crime in the 1980s, 14-year-old Francesca "Frankie" Jubilee is sent to the small town of Litani, Minnesota to live with her estranged mother when her botanist father dies. Linda Jubilee is the workalholic county prosecutor and does not time for being a good caring parent to the grieving Frankie. The first day, Linda sends Frankie outside to play in the playground and warns her to avoid the nearby woods and to stay away from adults. Right away, Frankie gets beaten up by a gang of 10-year old girls who steal her Converse shoes. Luckily, Frankie is saved by an older teenaged boy named Crane who lives in a nearby trailer park.

It becomes clear pretty soon that strange things are happening in Litani. Frankie learns about "The Game" and rumours about a satanic cult preying on young children. Most of the adults in Litani are pretty creepy. To pass the time, Frankie continues the tradition she shared with her father to look for rare or interesting plants and make up plant personalities for the people she meets. Frankie also wants to learn more about her late father's childhood in Litani, the group of friends who all still live in town and the tragic drowning of his 7-year old brother one summer.

The tension rises when Linda alerts the media that a series of arrests in a sex trafficking ring are coming soon. But when the ringleader abducts Frankie from her bed, it's up to this feisty, scared girl to save herself and admit her own secrets. This was a poignant, dark and disturbing tale.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer. I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
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After the unexpected death of her father, 14-year-old Frankie leaves her home in California to go to the rural Midwest.  Frankie joins her absentee, workaholic mother in her parents' strange and creepy hometown.  Frankie struggles alone in this terrifying town and fights to keep bad things at bay.    

"I knew monsters lived out in the open.  They lived right inside our homes."

Litani is a heartbreaking story loosely inspired by a 1980s true crime. It tells the story of children forced to deal with terrifying circumstances that no child should ever have to face.  Kids in this Minnesota small town must survive the best way they can.  I found myself cheering for Frankie and her new friend, Crane, to make it through unscathed. 

Two characters from Litani stood out for me. I loved Crane with his nuggets of wisdom and his willingness to be Frankie's protector.  I wasn't as fond of Frankie's mom for obvious reasons.  However, the depth of Frankie's mom's character gives you a lot to ponder.         

Litani offers an intense, dark coming-of-age story with elements of mystery and suspense for readers comfortable with the content.  

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for an early digital copy of this book.  This review reflects my honest, unbiased opinion.
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