‘My Dearest Darkest’ – Kayla Cottingham

Our story begins with talented musician Finch Chamberlain heading to the prestigious Ulalume Academy for an audition. The audition goes well, though Finch finds herself making trouble for student Selena St Clair. She is desperate for acceptance and expresses the view she’d do anything to get in. Next thing we know, a stag with eight eyes appears on the road in front of them, her father crashes the car and Finch and her parents are plunged into the river.

With our main character dying in the opening chapter, and then starting at the Academy, it was clear from early on that this was not going to be an ordinary read.

Finch hears a strange voice, her hair has turned white and she quickly finds herself wandering the tunnels below the academy where she seems to conjure a spirit known as Nerosi.

Suspend your disbelief. The girls at this school are ultra competitive, so for them to make their own deal with the devil in exchange for their heart’s desire makes sense. Initially the demands are fairly straightforward. The girls get flawless skin and increased popularity. Of course, it doesn’t take long for the demands to become a little harder to fulfil.

Much of the book focuses on the strange entity known as Nerosi, and the links between her appearance and strange events that took place in the town decades earlier. Finch and her new friends start to grow wary of exactly what is being asked of them and we soon see something evil has been unleashed…again.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this in advance of publication. Some of the background characters felt undeveloped, and Finch’s questioning of her sexuality felt like a means to shift the plot forward. However, it was an intriguing idea and I enjoyed the links between the respective storylines.