‘Five Total Strangers’ – Natalie D. Richards


A solid scare that ratchets up the tension, has some terrific jump moments but doesn’t go all-out with gore.

Our main character in this YA thriller is Mira, a girl travelling home for the Christmas holidays. Bad weather causes problems, and Mira needs to get home to be with her mother as it’s a year since a close relative died of cancer. So, even though the safest thing would be to wait it out, we have a plausible reason to explain what comes next.

Mira makes a plan to get a lift with Harper, the young woman she sat next to on the plane, and her friends. The journey begins smoothly enough, but the weather quickly becomes more threatening and as the journey progresses Mira realises that every single one in the car is a stranger to the others. Objects start going missing and before we know it every one of those in the car – and even some of those they encounter along the way – is a potential threat.

As we follow the journey we see the increase in tension. Fascinating to watch how they turn on each other as they gradually realise that someone is lying.

Interspersed with the narrative are excerpts from another voice – someone who has been watching Mira and who is determined that she’ll notice them. Naturally, this means we know Mira has good reason to feel uneasy, and we get caught up in the game of trying to work out just who is responsible before they get too close.

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this in exchange for my thoughts. It might not stick with you, but in the moments you’re reading it’ll definitely get under your skin. Scheduled for release in October 2020, it’s a perfect read for those darker nights.