Kiss in the Dark
by Lauren Henderson
The Scarlett Wakefield Series
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April, 2010
List Price: $15.99
Review: The Wakefields and the Barneses – a little like the Montagues and the Capulets? The tried and true Romeo and Juliet story is blended with a British mystery to produce an engaging novel for young adults in Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson. Henderson is also the author of the other Scarlett Wakefield books, Kiss Me Kill Me and Kisses and Lies. Scarlett Wakefield hopes to start a new life after putting Dan McAndrew’s murder behind her as she enrolls in Wakefield Hall Collegiate, an elite boarding school run by her grandmother. However, her hopes are dashed once Plum Saybourne, Scarlett’s greatest nemesis, joins her. In spite of Madam Wakefield’s warnings, Plum does not keep the past to herself and sets a course to destroy Scarlett and her best friend Taylor.
Excitement does enter Scarlett’s life though, and its name is Jase. Jase Barnes is the son of one of the work hands on the estate, but for reasons that baffle Scarlett and Jase, no one is happy about her relationship – least of all Mr. Barnes. As Scarlett tries to keep her female relationships in check, she also must sneak around in order to see Jase. Although they care deeply for one another, fate doesn’t seem to be in their corner. On a fateful morning, Mr. Barnes is found dead by none other than Scarlett. But worse than that, the primary suspect in the murder is his own son – Jase. In an effort to save her boyfriend, Scarlett delves deeper into the mystery of the Barnes family, and in turn also into her own. She finally gets some answers as to what happened the night her parents both died, and she eventually uncovers the reasons for the family divisions. But, is she ready to handle the information? Did she get into more than she bargained for? Could Jase really be a murderer? Read Kiss in the Dark to find out.
Overall, Kiss in the Dark is an enjoyable read. It’s fast-paced and has all the drama that teenage girls love to read. The relationships in the story help to draw the reader into the plot. The rapport between Plum and Scarlett is the typical girl scenario. Plum is the “alpha” girl on campus, and she has her minions that follow and mimic her every move. Scarlett, on the other hand, represents the rest of the girls who want to be their own person and stand up to the “alpha” girl. Her friendship with Taylor is also captivating. Taylor has a secret that she holds dear to her heart which sets up some intrigue around her. The connection between Jase and Scarlett is sweet and innocent with just a hint at something more to keep the reader engrossed. Lauren Henderson also uses an ideal tone to her writing to keep readers flipping pages late into the night. For example when Scarlett is explaining Miss Newman, a teacher at Wakefield, she says, “She only has one eyebrow, which is as busy as a shrubbery, more than a shadow of a matching mustache, and there are thick black wires sprouting from the moles on her chin. The only reason for her not plucking them has to be the terror they provoke in anyone who looks at her.” The entire book is told through the eyes of a teenager, which makes it great fun. Finally, the mystery is unpredictable and engaging. There are so many twists and turns, the reader is kept guessing until the very last page. It’s understandable why the Scarlett Wakefield series is such a success.
Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).
We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of Kiss in the Dark for this review.
Have you read Kiss in the Dark? How would you rate it?