Sarah Graves has already seen great acclaim for her first novel in the Lizzie Snow series, Winter at the Door. If you read any major reviews of the book, you’ll see it called “stylish,” “fast,” “thrilling,” and “dangerous,” with many reviewers pleading for the next novel. It looks like devoted readers are going to get exactly what they’re longing for in her second Lizzie Snow novel, The Girls She Left Behind.
The first pages of this book do not, in fact, feature Lizzie Snow herself. Instead, we spend the first fourteen pages meeting, getting to know, and losing two young girls named Cam and Janie. What follows their disappearance in the prologue is a quick-paced, blustery, twisting-and-turning novel that is difficult to put down.
When we meet Lizzie in the first chapter of the book, we immediately find a sharp, pensive, used-to-be homicide cop who is out of her element in her new small-town home. Lizzie has moved from her job in Boston to the tiny town of Bearkill, Maine, with the intent of finding a missing child—her young niece, Nicki. From there, the novel takes off, and we learn about other left-behind girls, taken girls, runaway girls, and how they’re all connected. It’s a dark, nightmarish web, and Lizzie Snow is determined to unweave it.
Graves is exceptional at her craft. Her setting for the novel is a bleak logging town in northern Maine that you can feel all around you as she moves you from page to page. It’s a dim and drizzly small town that seems simultaneously familiar and strange through Lizzie’s eyes, and it’s the perfect environment for this thriller. On top of her talent for setting a written stage, Graves is an expert at deftly moving among points of view throughout the novel, almost without the reader’s notice. Each of her characters is full and dimensional, and her narrative is strong and sure.
The Girls She Left Behind is equal parts fascinating, chilling, and altogether riveting. It already has me hoping for a new novel in the Lizzie Snow series. Although, really, I’d be happy with any new work from Graves.
I highly recommend picking up these first two Lizzie Snow installments and joining the rest of us in waiting with baited breath for a third.
Tessa Bryant is a graduate of the Departments of Theatre and English at Lipscomb University. She is a writer, director, administrator, and researcher of the performing and fine arts, and works and guest lectures at Lipscomb University. She is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
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