Find Him Where You Left Him Dead & Midnight Is the Darkest Hour

Posted October 13, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 10 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Find Him Where You Left Him Dead & Midnight Is the Darkest HourFind Him Where You Left Him Dead by Kristen Simmons
Published by Tor Teen on September 26, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Horror
Pages: 270
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Kristen Simmons's masterful breakout horror novel that's "Jumanji but Japanese-inspired" (Kendare Blake) about estranged friends playing a deadly game in a nightmarish folkloric underworld.

“Twists, turns, and genuine palpable emotion.” —David Levithan • “Haunting and unforgettable.” —Melissa de la Cruz • “A nightmare I didn’t want to end.” —Terry J. Benton-Walker • “Absorbing.” —C. L. Herman • “Bone-chilling.” —Lauren Shippen • “Heart-pounding.” —Margaret Rogerson • “Twisted.” —Lish McBride • “Won't let me sleep!” —Chelsea Mueller • "Full of surprises." —C. J. Redwine • “Intense.” —Kendare Blake

Four years ago, five kids started a game. Not all of them survived.

Now, at the end of their senior year of high school, the survivors—Owen, Madeline, Emerson, and Dax—have reunited for one strange and terrible reason: they’ve been summoned by the ghost of Ian, the friend they left for dead.

Together they return to the place where their friendship ended with one goal: find Ian and bring him home. So they restart the deadly game they never finished—an innocent card-matching challenge called Meido. A game without instructions.

As soon as they begin, they're dragged out of their reality and into an eerie hellscape of Japanese underworlds, more horrifying than even the darkest folktales that Owen's grandmother told him. There, they meet Shinigami, an old wise woman who explains the rules:

They have one night to complete seven challenges or they'll all be stuck in this world forever.

Once inseparable, the survivors now can’t stand each other, but the challenges demand they work together, think quickly, and make sacrifices—blood, clothes, secrets, memories, and worse.

And once again, not everyone will make it out alive.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

This was a great book! When I saw that this book was described as a Japanese-inspired Jumanji, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. I was hooked by this story right away and found myself trying to carve out extra reading time in my day just to get back to the book a little faster. I loved the fact that the story was brutal at times and the setting was incredibly unique.

Madeline, Emerson, Owen, Dax, and Ian were best friends until things went horribly wrong during a game that left Ian missing and presumed dead. They are brought together again four years later after they see a vision of their lost friend. Realizing their friend may not be dead, they go back to the place where they lost him and are thrust back into a game that is more dangerous than they could ever imagine.

The story is told from 4 main points of view and I loved getting to see things from each of the main character’s perspectives. The odds were definitely stacked against this group of characters since the world they found themselves in was horrific at times. I was impressed by the fact that there were some pretty big surprises worked into this story that I did not see coming. It was great seeing the relationships between these characters strengthen over the course of the story.

I would recommend this book to others. I was captivated by this entertaining novel with great characters and a perfectly creepy tone. I felt like the Japanese folklore added a wonderful element to this story. I hope to read more of this author’s work very soon.

I received a review copy of this book from Tor Teen.

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Find Him Where You Left Him Dead & Midnight Is the Darkest HourMidnight is the Darkest Hour by Ashley Winstead
Narrator: Sarah Welborn
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, Tantor Audio on October 3, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological
Length: 12 hours 7 minutes
Pages: 400
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

From the critically acclaimed author of In My Dreams I Hold A Knife and The Last Housewife comes Midnight is the Darkest Hour, a gothic Southern thriller about a killer haunting a small Louisiana town, where two outcasts—the preacher's daughter and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks—hold the key to uncovering the truth.

For fans of Verity and A Flicker in the Dark, Midnight is the Darkest Hour is a twisted tale of murder, obsessive love, and the beastly urges that lie dormant within us all...even the God-fearing folk of Bottom Springs, Louisiana. In her small hometown, librarian Ruth Cornier has always felt like an outsider, even as her beloved father rains fire-and-brimstone warnings from the pulpit at Holy Fire Baptist. Unfortunately for Ruth, the only things the townspeople fear more than the God and the Devil are the myths that haunt the area, like the story of the Low Man, a vampiric figure said to steal into sinners' bedrooms and kill them on moonless nights. When a skull is found deep in the swamp next to mysterious carved symbols, Bottom Springs is thrown into uproar—and Ruth realizes only she and Everett, an old friend with a dark past, have the power to comb the town's secret underbelly in search of true evil.

A dark and powerful novel like fans have come to expect from Ashley Winstead, Midnight is the Darkest Hour is an examination of the ways we've come to expect love, religion, and stories to save us, the lengths we have to go to in order to take back power, and the monstrous work of being a girl in this world.

"Where The Crawdads Sing meets Twilight meets Thelma and Louise in this brilliantly realized, totally original thriller. Absolutely sensational—I couldn't put it down." —Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author

I had a great time with this book! This is the first book by Ashley Winstead that I have read but it will not be the last. I was hooked by this story from the very start. Ruth and Ever had a lot to hide and I couldn’t wait to learn all of their secrets. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end. I found this to be an incredibly entertaining novel.

Ruth and Ever were great characters who faced terrible, but very different, situations in their home life. Ruth is the daughter of the most powerful man in the town, Pastor James Cormier. Everett is the son of the town drunk. Their lives intersect during a tragic moment and they become best friends. I liked Ruth and Ever even though they were incredibly flawed characters. I was pulled into the story right away and loved the fact that there were a few unexpected turns. I could have never guessed the direction that the story would go.

I switched to the audiobook when I was about halfway done with the story and thought that Sarah Welborn did a great job of bringing the story to life. I believe this was the first time I have had the chance to listen to this narrator’s work and I was impressed. I found her voice to be very pleasant and I had no problem listening to this book for hours at a time. I am certain that her narration only added to my overall enjoyment of this story.

I would recommend this book to others. I found this book to be quite addictive and hated to put it down when I had other obligations. I loved the fact that this story was able to keep time guessing until the very end. I cannot wait to read more of this author’s work!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Sourcebooks Landmark and Tantor Audio.

10 responses to “Find Him Where You Left Him Dead & Midnight Is the Darkest Hour

  1. I love a good spooky/suspenseful read! I’ve got both of these on my TBR list. Your reviews make me want to read them even more. 😀

  2. Well, well, well, both of those sound intriguing for their key words “Japanese Jumanji” and “gothic southern thriller” 🙂

  3. I was debating on whether to pick up Midnight is the Darkest Hour. I think I’ll have to grab it up. I love the sound of Find Him Where You Left Him Dead! Jumanji is one of my favorite movies!

  4. I’m glad to read that Midnight is the Darkest Hour was a hit! I’ve got the audiobook, so I hope to give it a listen soon.

  5. These both look good but Midnight is the Darkest Hour really caught my attention. I hadn’t heard of that but I think I would enjoy it. Great reviews!

  6. I have been wanting to read Find Him Where You Left Him Dead, so I am glad to read your review. Thanks for sharing it, Carole!