Cover Image: Pretty Dead Queens

Pretty Dead Queens

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Overall, Pretty Dead Queens is a solid YA mystery thriller with great characters and fun twist and turns! I wish it was a bit longer on the investigation and digging into the town secrets, but in general, I really recommend this one if you’re looking for some Nancy Drew x Agatha Christie to read!
Was this review helpful?
Cecilia moves in with her famous author grandma after her mom dies 
Her grandma's books started after a murder in high school. Soon Cecilia is living the same story and she decides to investigate herself 
I figured out who the killer was closer to the end of the book.
Was this review helpful?
Everyone loves a good murder mystery for the spooky season and the month of October, in the peak of fall and homecoming dances, horror movies and the promise of a new season, and you have Alexa Donne's new book! 

Brightly Burning was my favorite work from her (A very successful Jane Eyre retelling in a sci-fi space opera vibes which were perfect!) And I get to add this on to the list. The murder mystery itself was really good, with a plot twist I did not expect at all (But hey, murder authors in books are meant to be creepy!)

Top 5 reasons to consider this one is as follows:

We can all relate to Cecelia's feeling of being an outsider in a new place in the middle of a chaotic year

If you're the type of person to enjoy murder mysteries with LGBTQ+ characters who ACTUALLY get to do some important things, read this one!

A good plot twist that has you wondering which love interest will stay with Cecelia is also worth checking out

It is in the homecoming season we all either hate/love but it gives Riverdale vibes and I AM HERE FOR IT

Alexa Donne has a way to pull you in with vivid imagery and topics that will really make you enter Cecelia's shoes and will have you rooting for her.

In summary, add this to the spooky October list now!

Was this review helpful?
Being a woman on the edge of her 30s, I do find a good young adult novel to be my guilty pleasure and this one did not disappoint! There were a good mix of predictable twists that made you feel like you had the whole thing figured out, but also some big jaw-droppers that I never would've seen coming in a million years. 

This novel hearkens back to some of the campy thriller and horror movies of the '80s, like Carrie or Heathers. Growing up having watched those movies, this one spoke right to my heart but I think would've missed the point if someone from the book's intended audience picked it up. Though a knowledge of the foundation isn't required to enjoy these books, I think an affinity for that moment in pop culture really enhanced it's appeal. 

That being sad, I LOVED this book and simply could not put it down. I raced to the finish, thinking I had it all figured out but boy, was I wrong! I will recommend this one to literally anyone that asks, especially those that are specifically triggered or find the books of Karen McManus or Holly Jackson to be too dark. Really enjoyed this one!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Cecelia Ellis arrives in Seaview, a small coastal California town, to live with her estranged grandmother after her mother’s death. Her grandmother is a famous author who initially rose to fame when she wrote a murder mystery novel based on the real life events that took place in the town surrounding the death of a homecoming queen. Seaview seems rather ordinary these days though, until history repeats itself with another homecoming queen murdered. Certain that there is a copycat killer around, Cecelia starts investigating, but the further she digs, the more questions come up and it’s starting to look more and more like this case might be related to the first murder in more ways than one.

This review is so long overdue, especially as I had an ARC of this, but with the terrible couple of reading months I’ve been having, I only managed to sit down with this book two weeks ago. Having read The Ivies last year, I was excited to pick up another mystery by this author. This was a compact read and didn’t waste time going off track, which I really appreciated since I wasn’t at all in the mood for something that required too much analysis. The pacing was good and the investigation was interesting, with the events leading up to it starting off relatively quickly. The setting of a small town with so many generations of secrets provided a great backdrop to this story and it set the scene and mood quite well.

On the downside, just like with The Ivies, I felt there was a disconnect with the main character Cecelia and couldn’t really bring myself to care about her, or indeed any of the characters. They didn’t feel very well defined, and to be honest, there were far too many of them for my taste (especially given that this a single POV story), and I kept having to go back and remind myself who was who. Then there’s the fact that Celia has next to no reason to be investigating at all, apart from the fact that she was the one who stumbled onto the body. This resulted in a lack of any emotional connection to the story for me, despite the mystery itself being interesting. The romance arc was extremely insta-lovey and it also had such a typical love triangle trope that automatically had me marking it down half a star.

The big reveal was very well orchestrated, and I didn’t really suspect anything until well past the 75% mark – and even after that, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the last minute twist at the end of it all. In hindsight, it doesn’t really make sense from a logical angle that the killer would have gotten away with it for so long, but I think this is the type of book you just enjoy and don’t read too much into. Even though Halloween has long passed, this book is definitely a read that suits the spooky season and fans of mysteries and thrillers are sure to enjoy this intriguing whodunnit!
Was this review helpful?
Cecelia Ellis moves in with her famous-author grandmother to a small seaside town in Northern California...a town famous for a murdered homecoming queen, and the book about it that made her grandmother famous. When another would-be queen ends up dead, Cecelia is determined to find the killer.
Was this review helpful?
Pretty Dead Queens is a new young adult thriller written by Alexa Donne. Fifty years ago, the homecoming queen was murdered and founded laying facedown in the high school pool. Since then it has become tradition to honor her memory and to never forget what happened that fateful night. Recently, Cecelia Ellis moved in with her grandmother after losing her mother to cancer. Her grandmother is a famous author who actually has written a fictional account of that tragic night.  It isn't long before Cecelia is making new friends and preparing for her own homecoming. This is when tragedy strikes again and another home coming queen is found laying facedown in the pool. 

Cecelia is the one who finds the homecoming queen in the pool. Her name was Natalie and she comes from a mostly well to do family.  At first, it is a question of if this event is a tragic attempt at copying the original murder? Or does this one have absolutely nothing to do with the one previously? It doesn't take long before Cecelia finds herself deep in the investigation trying to figure out exactly what happened that night. Nothing is exactly as it seems on the surface and people will do anything is keep their secrets hidden. 

The Seaview town where the drownings occur is a very small area where everyone knows everyone. There are long lasting friendships along with long lasting enemies. The children of these friendships are friends but, they will never be friends with their parents enemies. In alot of ways there is a sense of old money floating around and the idea that money can and will help cover anything up. As a reader, the vibe of the town really played into the investigation. There were so many possible leads! I understood why Cecelia was having such a hard time weeding them out. Neither she nor I want it to be someone that she had come to know and trust. 

There is an attempt at a love triangle through out the story which I felt didn't really mesh with the rest of the story. It just didn't feel necessary along with the murder mystery. A little bit of romance would have been alright, I think but to have the main character conflicted over two boys as she's investigating the murder didn't sit well with me. Especially since it seemed like she was only really invested in one of the boys. The other thing that didn't seem to fully mesh was the use of teenage slang throughout the book. It just didn't feel natural. It was like someone's attempt at what teenagers should sound like. 

All in all, I enjoyed Pretty Dead Queens. The murder mystery portion was well written and kept me turning pages, I likely would have been even more engrossed if it wasn't for the awkwardness of the teenage slang and the inserted love triangle.  The Seaview small town setting was easy to visualize and the characters were able to be distinguished from each other.  Cecelia definitely had the family gene for murder mysteries even wen it meant putting herself in danger. This was my first Alexa Donne book but, I look forward to reading more from her soon!
Was this review helpful?
I tried to like this one. The premise was great, the characters were really well thought out and fun. I really enjoyed the internal monologue. However, it was predictable and I just struggled to get excited. Everything I thought was going to happen did and it just was a little boring to read. I do believe this book was well written and I have no double many will love it, it just wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?
I don't know why it took me so long to pick this book up because once I did... I couldn't put it down! The twists, the lies, the utter mess of these characters were so addictive to read. Sure, it was a little predictable, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing - just slightly disappointing. This is my first book from author Alexa Donne but it certainly won't be my last after this!
Was this review helpful?
A terrific YA mystery that was engaging, entertaining as well as fun! The author did a wonderful job of making the story and writing enjoyable for adults as well as teens which I feel like is sometimes difficult to do! The lengthy amount of characters had me constantly guessing who was who & what had happened (in a fun way)! I am a major fan of Twilight and Pretty Little Liars and so this stunning blend of both brought me back to the good old days! I would recommend this books to just about anyone!!
Was this review helpful?
A fun read that hits all the marks for a small-town murder mystery. Plenty of drama, misdirection, and amateur sleuthing.
Was this review helpful?
Pretty Dead Girls is a fun YA thriller that immediately made me think of some of the classics by authors like Caroline B. Cooney and Lois Duncan.

After the death of her mother, Cecilia moves in with her famous author grandma (Maura) who she has been estranged from for reasons unknown. Maura's success started with a retelling of the real murder of her friend and homecoming queen, Caroline. Now it seems like history is repeating itself as the current queen bee is killed exactly the same way…

Cecilia is trying to balance life as a teenage girl in a new city; making friends; crushing on boys; but ultimately her inner Nancy Drew wins as she dives deeper into the present day copycat murder.  

The plot is twisty, well- developed and definitely caught me off guard with one major twist. It retrospect, it's just what I wanted, though I didn't know that yet. I hope the openish ending means we’re not done with Cecilia and Seaview yet. 

And Alexa Donne, I hold you personally responsible for the number of times I've sung (belted out) "Cecilia" since finishing the book. My husband is less amused : )

Thank you to Penguin Teen Canada and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
𝓡𝓮𝓿𝓲𝓮𝔀 Pretty Dead Queens
Autor: Alexa Donne
Páginas: 336
Género: thriller juvenil 
Puntuación: 3,5 / 5⭐️
HOLIS! Hoy les traigo la reseña de este libro que leí como advance copy reader de penguin y que me gustó bastante. 
La reina del baile de la escuela de Seaview está muerta y no es la primera. Luego de que su mamá muera, Cecelia Ellies se va a vivir con su abuela una aclamada escritora de misterio que se hizo famosa cuando escribió sobre una muerte en su escuela secundaria. Su pueblo es tranquilo pero cuando en la secundaria de Cecelia se repite el mismo patrón de ascesinato, las cosas se empiezan a complicar y Cecelia hará lo imposible para investigar qué sucedió. 
Bueno me entretuvo y se me hizo bastante dinámico de leer y me intrigó. El misterio principal me dejo 😨 mis teorías se fueron al tacho aunque había una sospecha ahí jajja soy malisima para estas cosas. Si buscan un thriller juvenil sobre asesinatos onda pretty little liars o alguien está mintiendo, este es ideal! 
¿uds lo conocían? ¿les interesaría hacerlo? 
 Los leo 
🐱 ⋆ 🐾  🎀  𝒟𝒶𝒾𝓊𝓊  🎀  🐾 ⋆ 🐱.
Was this review helpful?
Pretty Dead Queens is a fast-paced mystery thriller. I enjoyed this except for the overwhelming drama in the latter parts of the book. Though I’m not the biggest fan of thrillers, this will definitely entertain fans of Karen M. McManus and Holly Jackson.
Was this review helpful?
I will be reviewing a physical copy I bought of this book on my social media platforms because I loved it so much but thank you agin to Random House  for the digital arc
Was this review helpful?
A fun read! I enjoyed the mystery and fast pacing of the plot, but I do think it came at the expense of the characters and learning more about them. In the end, a lot of them blended together - Ben and Luke, Amber and Morgan. Very common names given to characters that you don't really come to know as the reader, which meant that I had to constantly try and remember who was who (especially since almost all of them were introduced at the same time). I wish there were either less characters or not as many killing motivations for some of those characters so I wouldn't have been as lost. 

The twist at the end was fairly predictable, but I still enjoyed the reveal. Donne's writing is great, and I think that helped me power through to the end. Excited to see what she does next!
Was this review helpful?
Cecelia Ellis moves in with her grandmother, Maura Weston, a woman she barely knows...who also happens to be a best-selling mystery author. Grieving the loss of her mother, and finding herself the new girl a month into the school year, Cecelia faces a bit of a culture shock being in this sleepy coastal town unlike any part of California she knows. When a homecoming queen turns up murdered and it's not the town's first dead queen, Cecelia makes it her mission to solve the case.

While the plot started out promising, it plateaued in the second half of the book for me when it came to the drama. That being said, I did find the premise to be engaging and I thought Donne's writing to be very palatable, the plot wasn't marred with unnecessary interludes and the mystery was well thought out. This was my first book from Donne and I found it to be a solid, if a bit predictable, thriller.
Was this review helpful?
Love me a great YA mystery!

Truly enjoyed this one! The author does a great job of making you trust certain characters and then throwing in a couple
Of great plot twists! Wonderfully written and will be reading more from this author.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed Alexa Donne's writing. I can relate to the mc Cecelia on multiple levels. I found the book engaging as well as entertaining. I really can't say much without giving it away but I loved the ending. I would tell you to read this if you enjoy Pretty Little Liars. It definitely gives me those vibes. I am definitely adding a hard copy to my library. 

Thank you Net Galley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review
Was this review helpful?
This was such a wild ride. I love teenage sleuth books. This small town had so many dirty little secrets that the death of the almost homecoming queen didn't even feel like the spotlight story. Add in a mystery/thriller author for a grandma and this whole thing is just one twist after another.

3.5 stars because of the unneeded death of a rabbit in the first page of the book. Stop thinking rabbits are expendable pets. It's disgusting.
Was this review helpful?