Cover Image: Jackal


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Member Reviews

Yes yes yes! This was everything perfect in the writing world! The storyline and the plot, the characters, the writing style. So good! Loved how it easily slipped from mystery thriller vibes all the way to horror.
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I believe this is a debut novel from Erin Adams. Such an original plot, so many fully realized characters, I devoured this book. The author kept me in suspense for so long. I can't wait to see what she writes next. Highly recommended.
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JACKAL is an unexpected, engrossing, and thought-provoking thriller that I'm so glad I picked up. I didn't know what to expect going in, and was surprised at every turn. Erin E. Adams has created a cinematic novel that is endlessly readable and unlike anything you've encounter. The book starts off so strong, with Liz returning to her hometown for a friend's wedding. At the wedding, her friend's daughter goes missing and this leads Liz to remember a girl from her high school going missing in the same manner in the woods 1o years earlier. This leads Liz down a path of realizing Black girls go missing in these PA woods every summer and no one seems to care. As she tries to work to find her goddaughter, she uncovers more and more about these other girls and the mystery that led to what happens in the woods every summer.

The book is spooky, shocking, and while the hook is fantastic, the ending got a little muddled for me. There are monsters, literal and figurative, and it's gruesome and complicated. Adams writing has a spectacular way of blending a critique of classism and racism all while balancing multiple genres and a host of characters. This would be a perfect movie because her writing is so visual and stunning. I'll of course leave the ending a surprise, but while it may not be the strongest metaphor, it still left me reeling and wanting to know more. A really fantastic debut.
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This was a very nicely done mystery thriller turned horror novel. The writing was crisp and the storyline was well crafted and intriguing.
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Liz Rocher is about to disembark from her train ride back to her hometown of Johnstown Pennsylvania. She is headed home to attend the wedding of her best friend, Melissa “Mel” Parker to Garrett Washington. Mel and Liz have been friends from childhood; Mel came to Liz’s aid when, as one of only three black students, Liz was being bullied for being black—but not black enough. Liz arrived from the train station and went directly to her childhood home and her Haitian physician mother, only to be criticized about everything from her weight to the length of her hair. To say Liz is not happy to be home after ten years is an understatement. She has promised Mel exactly forty-eight hours before she takes the train back to her New York apartment. More than her mother, the town, and the people in it are the woods surrounding Johnstown. When the girls were in high school, a bonfire party was held in those woods. That night, a classmate named  Keshia Woodson was taken, and Liz was wounded as she was dragged away. Keshia was later found cut wide open down her entire sternum, and had her heart removed. Liz has been terrified of the woods since. At the wedding, Caroline, Mel and Garrett’s nine-year old daughter, wanders off into the woods when Liz is distracted. As the search for Caroline continues, Liz gets a history lesson about the town. It seems that every year since 1986 right around summer solstice, a victim is taken into the woods—all of them female, all of them black, and none of them come out alive. Liz must fight her fears and enter the darkness of the woods to save Caroline from whatever evil has taken her. 

“Jackal” is an incredibly powerful novel that deals with many different important issues, from domestic abuse, to kidnapping, to serial killing, and to being black in a mostly white town. It can’t really be defined in terms of a single genre, as it is a combination of many. I’d consider it mainly a psychological thriller, but there are so many moving parts. It’s a lot to take in, as all of these issues and failures of today’s cultural landscape are brought to light. There is a dark undertone throughout, very pervasive in each chapter, very somber and heavy. A supernatural element is presented as well, and while the other issues are a gut-wrenching call to action and change on the part of every individual, this aspect was a huge turn-off for me. There was some free verse poetry interspersed as well, adding to the morbid tone. I felt that the best comparison I could give is to quote the saying: “There are two wolves fighting inside all of us. The first one is evil, the second one is good... Which wolf will win? The one you feed.” There were plenty of twists in the book, and overall I really enjoyed reading and would recommend it. Unfortunately, the supernatural aspect was the reason I rated the book four instead of five stars. 

I’d like to thank NetGalley, Erin E. Adams, and Bantam Books/Random House for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
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A young Black girl goes missing in the woods outside her Johnstown, PA, home. She might be the first, but she won’t be the last. Someone or something is watching and taking. In fact, the townfolks repeat a warning poem: “A man and his shadow live in the trees. When they walk in time, both are pleased. If one calls your name, or the other tempts you off the path, You must ignore both, or face their wrath.”
And Liz Rocher discovers that she might be next. She came home for her best friend’s wedding, but she discovers a town-wide mystery. Who is taking Black girls? And why? Liz manages to talk to the mothers and works with the police and an old friend to uncover the truth. Meanwhile, she may lose everything she loves. 
I devoured this book until the last quarter. Then, it got a little weird. But I still enjoyed it. I appreciated the theme of social justice and standing up for ourselves. 
Also, it’s important to look at the shadows - what we ignore has the power to destroy us. Liz returned to her hometown to find the truth, and she certainly did find out what she’s made of. She also helped the townspeople discover truths about themselves, too. “Everyone in this town— this country— is so afraid of the other, whoever the “other” is today. If there’s one thing fear can do, it makes a beast out of a shadow.” And “Out in the woods, if you see or hear something that makes your hair stand on end— no, you didn’t. But learning, naming, and confronting what makes us afraid and uncomfortable, no matter how ugly, is key to understanding and ensuring it never happens again.”
Triggers include domestic violence, rape, racism, and murder.
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Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC. This was such an interesting roller coaster. Equal parts thriller and dark fiction set in small town America and what it means to come home again. This book was largely a whodunnit and I honestly was surprised by the end. Will def read more by Erin Adams
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Great supernatural, horror, genre-bending read. Black girls going missing, evil in the forest, touching in sensitive issues? You can say I was hooked and thrilled the whole time.
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I could not put this book down.  It's fast paced with many twists and turns. I was engaged with the plot and characters throughout the book.  

Liz returns to her hometown in rust belt PA to attend her best friend's wedding.  Liz has long avoided Johnstown, where she never really fit in.  When her god daughter disappears into the wood during the wedding, Liz joins a desperate search to find her.  In doing so she uncovers the secrets of the town and the woods.  

In the Author's Note Erin Adams details her experience growing up in Johnstown as well as Johnstown history such as the flood in the 1890's and the flight of 2,000 people of color after a proclamation that all black people who have lived in town for less than 7 years be expelled.  Systemic racism is evident in the geography, educational system and social hierarchy of John
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Kept me distracted during a rough week!
Up from 3.5 stars.
Thank you very much to Random House and NetGalley for the ARC!
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This was a beautiful horror story. The first 70-80% of the book reads as a social thriller. The last part.... pure... perfect... horror. I really loved how this book ended. I ended up listening to the audiobook which a woman with a stunning voice reads. Spoilers ahead: I was worried this book would end the way most "horror" novels end, which is a real-life villain that has been portrayed as a real fictional monster the entire time. The opposite was true in this case. There is a real paranormal element to this book that you don't normally find. It's not a ghost or an overused entity. It's Anubis which I have never seen used as a villain before but I loved it. My first five-star book of the year. Excellent. Beautiful. It is expertly executed.
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TW: Bullying, racism, child death, murder, depression, grieving, animal death, smoking, language, anxiety, sexual abuse/rape of child(ren)

About the book: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 and 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 bride’s daughter, Caroline, goes missing—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 school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart missing. 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.
Release Date: October 4th, 2022
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 336
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

What I Liked:
1. Wow that cover 😍
2. The plot sounds creepy
3. The perspective of the killer 

What I Didn't Like:
1. I hated how confusing the different timelines were
2. Almost all the characters sound so similar
3. Liz picking fights with her "best friend" while her Godchild is missing
4. Unneeded romance

Overall Thoughts:
At first the writing was a little off putting to me. It felt choppy and unfocused but as I kept reading I didn't notice as much and the story started to flow.

Omg Liz taking this moment to school Mel on racism when Mel's daughter is missing overnight. Like she would need to hear about it right now. Then Liz gets mad at Mel because Mel gets defensive and leaves her in the woods. 

I hate that the book makes out like hunting and field dressing a deer equals a serial killer. Some people like knowing where their food comes from or that's all they can afford. I hate that the author makes out like it's bad. 

Mel is searching for her daughter and just acts like it's so normal. It was so odd. Even laughing about some stuff and talking like this is all okay. 

Oh and then Liz picks another fight with Mel, blaming her dad for killing all the missing/murdered kids. Liz says she's out here trying find them and it's about so much more than Mel's daughter - ummmm Liz where the hell were you over the years that NOW it's so important? I just want Liz to tone it back some. Like dude help your friend find her missing child AND then try to find what happened to the missing girls.

Why is Liz included in the investigation? She's a sales person lol. 

I thought that the author having all the missing girls being justified as murdered because of an animal attack or being abused by a family member was good. When white people disappear it's taken seriously but when black people go missing there's always some ridiculous excuse of why and it takes away from the true crime. 

Another unneeded romance in a thriller. Like why?? Her best friends kid is missing and she decides she must sleep with this dude and that's even after she finds the crayon in his truck bed. She has complete suspension that he could be the kidnapper/murderer BUT has sex with him. Are all women just stupid in thrillers? They all seem to sleep with the person they think is the bad dude. After they sleep together he comes back with some lame excuse as to why it's there.

What's with the weird repeated sentance when Liz's mother made hot chocolate? It was word for word what she said before.

Ahhhhhh why do people always accuse the murderer when they are in the middle of nowhere?

Took 90% of the book before you get to the "horror" element of the story. Before that it's just a thriller. It's a basic thriller. A thriller that you've read 100 times before.

There are like 30 black girls killed in these woods. Why would people let their kids in the woods?? Also I don't know if I missed it but does Doug find all these girls wondering in the woods or does he find them outside of town? 

I still didn't understand the point of Doug leading Liz on with including her on things. 

Final Thoughts:
I feel like where the book left off I still had a lot of questions that were left unanswered. I'm mad that this book was promised as a horror thriller when it was just simply a thriller with questionable supernatural elements. I felt like I read through way too much basic thriller to get a pretty underwhelming ending. The person we meet at the ending that could give us an explanation doesn't even follow through with that and we leave off with questions of what was he. He says he is not a demon. He wants to take over a body that is strong but travels through hearts. What did Doug get from this bargain if the "being" isn't even strong enough to leave the woods to get his own girls?

Like I said I think this book started off interesting and I was interested in finding out why the girls were being murdered, but the ending wasn't enough to save a bland book. 

Recommend For:
• Basic thriller books 
• Strong female lead
• Strong black female character
• Thrillers with supernatural elements
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wow!! this book was perfect to read during halloween month!! 

a young black girl goes missing in the woods outside her white Rust Belt town. She's not the first and she wont be the last... its watching!  Liz Rocher experienced something traumatic when she was young inside those woods, and as soon as she could, she left that town. But now she is being forced to go back because her best friend is getting married. But when the brides daughter, Caroline, goes missing... Liz is afraid her past is happening all over again. The woods are taking young black girls again.. but she wont let them have Caroline.

This book was sooo good !! Usually im not a huge horror fan, but Erin Adams did such an amazing job at making ti just creepy enough without being ridiculous. I loved it so much and cant wait for her to write more !! Such a great debut !
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"Where are the dogs? The human chains? The sweeps? They don't fucking care," Mel takes a moment. "It's 'cause she's a little Black girl, right?"

It's been 15 years since another young Black girl went missing. She was found dead, her body mutilated. And, as our main character is soon to discover, young Black girls have been disappearing for decades.

"These aren't random girls. A shadow calling their names isn't a folktale. These girls were targeted."

This is a fine first novel; Adams knows how to craft a well paced, suspenseful thriller with great dialogue. I'm looking forward to her next novel.

"A man and his shadow live in the trees.
When they walk in time, both are pleased.
If one calls your name, or the other tempts you off the path,
You must ignore both, or face their wrath."
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I loved every piece of this book. From the character development to the woods to the drama and heartache, I could not get enough of this book. I will read anything Erin Adams writes from now on.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for this eARC.

WOW. This book was so flipping good. It was the right amount of horror for me, the right amount of guessing and trying to figure it all out. It was all right. I loved it. Highly the recommend.
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I often like to go into books without knowing much about them. Often this works out really well for me - but occasionally it backfires. In this case, it didn't work out for me and I decided to DNF. I knew this was about a Black woman returning to the Pennsylvania town where she grew up and learning about Black girls who have gone missing. I read lots of crime/thriller/suspense so thought this would be up my alley. I didn't realize there was a horror element and that isn't my thing so decided to stop reading this one. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance reading copy.
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<I>First, a thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.</I>

I won't lie y'all - the first half of this book was a bit of a struggle for me. I really enjoyed the flashes to the past and reading from the "forest's" (as I called it then) POV, but when we were with Liz, our MC, it was just... not doing it for me.

It was only later in the book I came to realize the author was <i>purposefully</i> writing her to be withdrawn, distant, and blank. And once the floodgates opened... boy, did they open.

<i>If there’s one thing fear can do, it’s make a beast out of a shadow. It turns us all into monsters.</i>

This book is a commentary on the ugliness that hides within the shadows; how easy it is to pretend that there is nothing wrong, to continue to exist in an unjust world, because we are too afraid of confronting the demons that haunt a society, a place. 

I understand how some felt the ending of the book was not satisfying, as we weren't really left with a clear understanding of the fate of one of the characters - but to me, that was entirely on purpose. Now we have confronted the darkness. But there is more work left to do once you face the dark - you must also work to ensure it doesn't encroach again, and to continue to face it head-on, no matter how uncomfortable that makes you feel.

I highly recommend to all who read to make it to the Author's Note at the end, which I also found to be both powerful and enlightening: 

"But learning, naming, and confronting what makes us afraid and uncomfortable, no matter how ugly, is key to understanding and ensuring it never happens again. Sometimes anger comes with truths like this."

This book is an ode to missing and murdered BPOC women, who have too long and too often been forgotten, had their light snuffed out, or been pushed back down when they shone brightly. This was an extremely purposeful book - and it is not subtle in its critique of police when it comes to the cases of missing and murdered BPOC women.
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Jackal by Erin E. Adams was such a creepy read! Lia is from a small town in Pennsylvania, She was one of the few black people in town and doesn’t have the best memories of growing up there. One thing that haunts her was her senior year, at a party near the woods, one of the other black girls from her class goes missing and was later found dead. Her heart has been ripped out of her body. 
Present day, Liz is coming back for her best f friend’s wedding. Her best friend Mel, who is white, is marrying Garrett, who is black. They have a little daughter Caroline and Liz is her godmother. Liz adores Caroline. Unfortunately, the wedding is at a farm on the outskirts of the woods and Caroline goes missing. The sets in motion a horrifying tale that weaves together past and present. What follows is such a menacing and dreadful tale. You get the feeling that something is not right, but you’re not sure what. Little by little more and more stories of missing black girls are revealed. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot and give anything away. 
I loved the character of Liz. She was a strong, black woman. I also liked  the way the author explained the history of the town and how that had a lot to do with the story. The themes of race and class were very well detailed. I will definitely read more books by the author. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy this book. All opinions are my own.
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Thank you Netgalley for the advance reader copy of Jackal by Erin E. Adams in exchange for an honest review. What an excellent thriller/mystery. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. It pulled me in and kepty interest peaked to the last page.
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