The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

The Hanging Girl

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly ha...

Title:The Hanging Girl
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The Hanging Girl Reviews

  • Laura

    There is just something about a mystery with an unreliable narrator and excellent twists that does it for me.

    follows Skye, a girl we immediately learn lies and has no qualms about it. She does desperately need the money after all. She is highly observant making it easy to trick her classmates into believing she is psychic - in order to make a quick, easy buck. Skye will read their tarot cards, telling them what they want to hear. This makes her the perfect person for Pluto to

    There is just something about a mystery with an unreliable narrator and excellent twists that does it for me.

    follows Skye, a girl we immediately learn lies and has no qualms about it. She does desperately need the money after all. She is highly observant making it easy to trick her classmates into believing she is psychic - in order to make a quick, easy buck. Skye will read their tarot cards, telling them what they want to hear. This makes her the perfect person for Pluto to work with - bringing Skye in on the kidnapping of a fellow student who happens to be the daughter of a prominent judge in an attempt to get a ransom. It's simple. Skye won't be doing anything too illegal. Just feed the police "psychic predictions" to make sure they're on the right track. And get half the ransom after all is said and done. If only Skye knew: when things seem too good to be true, they usually are.

    Plenty of twists ensue throughout. It is a fun ride even if you predict certain outcomes.

    is proving herself to be a strong writer in the YA mystery department. Both this and

    are thrilling, engaging, and complex in the best of ways. I enjoyed the characters and strong writing. It felt like there were several smaller mysteries within this novel leading up to the biggest mystery of them all.

    If the psychic aspect is turning you off: just know I felt the same way before reading, but it ended up working very well within the plot. Nothing in the story was actually off-putting. In fact, I had a hard time putting this one down.

  • Emily May

    I think Eileen Cook is a real author to watch. Her books seem to be flying relatively under the radar so far, but in both this book and

    , she’s demonstrated her talent for dragging me in and keeping me interested throughout the tale she is weaving.

    In

    ,

    . Skye's narrative was instantly engaging, sh

    I think Eileen Cook is a real author to watch. Her books seem to be flying relatively under the radar so far, but in both this book and

    , she’s demonstrated her talent for dragging me in and keeping me interested throughout the tale she is weaving.

    In

    ,

    . Skye's narrative was instantly engaging, showing her to be someone we might not be able to trust and someone willing to lie and manipulate to get what she wants. And yet, she is not unlikable. I found it very easy to sympathize with her desire for something

    than what she has. I understood the lies she told - she created a fictional life for herself; a fictional life she wished she had.

    If you haven't already, I don't recommend reading professional reviews for this book. Kirkus and others reveal what I found to be a

    . It happens only a third of the way in, but I still think it is better to experience it firsthand rather than being spoiled before. So I'll be coy about it: When a pretty teenager goes missing, Skye tells the police of the psychic visions she has been having about the disappearance, offering clues to the missing girl's whereabouts.

    However, it soon becomes obvious that Skye is involved more than she is letting on. When things take a very unexpected turn, Skye must decide whether to reveal what she knows or continue the deception.

    To be honest, I think naturally suspicious readers will have no problem working out what is going on, but that didn't seem to matter for me. Skye was a strong enough narrator and didn't need a surprising conclusion to elevate her story - it was enough to wonder what would happen when the truth came out. And

    .

    I'm sure some will want a different ending for

    . Perhaps more drama, definitely more

    , but I think it's pretty perfect the way it is.

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  • Carrie

    Skye Thorn is a high school senior that has grown up with a mother that thinks she's psychic leading Skye to begin her own business of tarot readings. For Skye though she knows there's no psychic ability behind her strangely accurate readings, she just knows how to really read people and with a little help reading personal files when working in the office she's spot on with her "predictions".

    Now that high school is coming to a close though Skye finds herself desperate for money when it doesn't

    Skye Thorn is a high school senior that has grown up with a mother that thinks she's psychic leading Skye to begin her own business of tarot readings. For Skye though she knows there's no psychic ability behind her strangely accurate readings, she just knows how to really read people and with a little help reading personal files when working in the office she's spot on with her "predictions".

    Now that high school is coming to a close though Skye finds herself desperate for money when it doesn't look like her plans of moving to New York with her best friend will ever come to pass from her readings or part time job. Before she knows it Skye finds herself pulled into what should be a harmless prank leading her to predict the whereabouts of a missing girl but Skye soon finds herself in over her head and wondering just how far things may go.

    The Hanging Girl is my second book I've read by Eileen Cook and just like the first it took no time at all to be deeply engaged in the story within the pages. Somehow this author has managed to pretty much lay it all out there with her stories at the very beginning but still drag a reader into the intensity of the characters and story even with thinking you know where the book will take you. But having read her before I knew that eventually I was going to go where I'd never expect and just happily went along for the ride.

    Skye is a bit of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks so to speak having been raised by a mother who was no more than a child herself when Skye was born. She sees herself as waiting tables with no future while all her friends will be moving on which leads her to get herself into more than she bargained for looking for that way out and a step up in life. I loved her rather sarcastic nature and quick wit and immediately became invested in finding out just what she was getting herself into.

    Overall, I'd definitely recommend checking this one out if a fan of young adult mystery/thrillers. It was engaging from the start and a definite page turner as the story unfolded with plenty of twists and turns to keep one guessing until the very end.

    I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

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  • destiny ☠ howling libraries

    I have never needed half-star ratings so badly for any book review in my life. 3.5 stars is really the perfect rating for this story, but for the sake of Goodreads' rating system, down it goes to 3 stars.

    In a nutshell,

    is about Skye, a fake psychic who gets desperate for cash and assists in a kidnapping plot in order to load her bank account with a bit of ransom money. Th

    I have never needed half-star ratings so badly for any book review in my life. 3.5 stars is really the perfect rating for this story, but for the sake of Goodreads' rating system, down it goes to 3 stars.

    In a nutshell,

    is about Skye, a fake psychic who gets desperate for cash and assists in a kidnapping plot in order to load her bank account with a bit of ransom money. Things don't work out the way she expected - do they ever in these stories? - and she finds herself in deep trouble, risking her own safety and freedom.

    My single biggest problem with this book was how "rich vs. poor" trope-heavy it was. I think the author was trying to convey some serious social commentary on the state of things in the US specifically - she even threw a few jabs at Republicans throughout the book, so it was pretty obvious - and that would have been fine, if Paige, the kidnapping victim, hadn't been such a quintessential "mean girl". She's rich, beautiful, thin, gets everything she wants, totally cruel, and just an

    character.

    Naturally, our MC, Skye, is none of these things, and it led to

    much girl-on-girl hate. The entire book was actually rife with girls tearing down other girls, and it was just a tough pill to swallow because I've grown so weary of this cliche. Support other women, ladies!

    There were aspects to this book that I enjoyed, of course, and Skye was (for the most part) one of them. Skye has serious anxiety, and that rep felt very authentic to me as someone who also suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. We learn early on that Skye also has a history of making up stories to make herself popular, and this aspect of her backstory made her an unreliable narrator of sorts, which was really enjoyable.

    Unfortunately, there's a twist in the end of the book that more or less ruined her character for me, as she condones some really terrible business and essentially learns

    from her trials. By the end, I couldn't root for Skye, either, sadly.

    The book occasionally shifts into Paige's perspective, and gives a bit of backstory on why her life isn't all it's cracked up to be. She's been through some tough times, but I never really connected with those incidents enough to feel like they "explained" her behaviors; if anything, it seemed like they were just kind of thrown in as plot devices. It was one of many problems that led me to feel as though the book was just one long red herring after another, with one excuse after another, - but none of the characters even became fleshed out enough for me to "buy" any of it.

    All in all, was this a quick, fun mystery read? Sure! It wasn't horror by any stretch, so while it may not be the perfect addition to your Halloween TBR, it would be a good mystery to cozy up with. Can I 100% recommend this book? Not with the constant girl-on-girl bashing and some of the problems I'll list below. Will I pick up more books from Eileen Cook in the future? That's yet to be determined.

    this book contains implied rape, on-page violence, mental health stigmas/ableism, victim blaming, verbal/emotional manipulation and bullying, and

    slut-shaming.

    You can read my review and more on my

    !

  • Kathryn

    For years, Eileen Cook has been my go-to for YA thrillers. Her

    , Eileen Cook’s latest edition, is no exception.

    better known as Skye, has spent her entire life

    For years, Eileen Cook has been my go-to for YA thrillers. Her

    , Eileen Cook’s latest edition, is no exception.

    better known as Skye, has spent her entire life

    Desperate to escape small-town Michigan,

    Problem is:

    Slinging fast-food and giving out occasional tarot card readings ain’t cutting it. There enters Code-Named Pluto.

    -- the wild, popular, teenaged daughter of a local judge. In exchange,

    Ransom money will be evenly divided with Skye earning a cool

    The Big Apple’s lights look a tad brighter already. Complications arise, however, when

    Forced to live with an irresponsible

    with fake tarot card readings.

    A mother who would rather spend time analyzing auras than paying bills. And it’s their relationship that’s a highlight of the story. Their odd-couple dynamic makes Skye’s personality both realistic and understandable. And her

    No small feat.

    Reminiscent of a teen

    Eileen Cook’s latest creation is

    and just when you *think* you have everything figured out, the script is FLIPPED.

    Oh Eileen, you never fail to disappoint.

  • ✿KathEryn✿

    The story was all over the place, and the author was obviously trying

    too hard to please "today's society" by giving us this

    diverse set of characters. Don't get me wrong, diversity is GREAT. But when every character seems to be deliberately put in there just to make people happy, I don't like it. It makes me feel like the story isn't the authors anymore, but rather that the author was pushed into pleasing society instead of staying true t

    The story was all over the place, and the author was obviously trying

    too hard to please "today's society" by giving us this

    diverse set of characters. Don't get me wrong, diversity is GREAT. But when every character seems to be deliberately put in there just to make people happy, I don't like it. It makes me feel like the story isn't the authors anymore, but rather that the author was pushed into pleasing society instead of staying true to their vision.

    Not only that, but I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS HAPPENING. Honestly, it feels like I've been picking up all the

    books lately - 'cause it seems like I'm confused with nearly every book I try - or I just flat out don't like it. But seriously, there were some chapters in this book where you would assume it's in Skye's perspective (she's the MC), however you'd be told later that that chapter was actually someone else's perspective, and I was like

    So then, I'd backtrack and STILL be confused with that chapter.

    I decided to just give up once I read a paragraph that was flat-out shaming Republican's:

    Ohhh, I see. So it's fine to do that to Republican's, right? 'Cause they're harsh and enjoy forcing people to do things. Mhm. But don't you dare speak badly about Democrats - because that's unacceptable! It's like,

    C'mon. Also, why the heck did that have to be mentioned in there? She didn't have to add the political view. But it was obvious that Cook was throwing a jab at Republicans, and I'm sorry, but that really ticked me off. Then again, I think it was unwise on her part to do that, since I'm sure I won't be the only one to get annoyed by it.

    this was not my type of read. The story was too disorganized and I didn't want to finish it. You should never read books that irk you. There are so many better books out there - and I'm not one of those people who are finicky about DNFing books. If I hate it, I'm probably not going to finishing it. *shrugs*

    Then again, you might like this, so you should still give it a shot.

  • Elise (thebookishactress on wordpress)

    There are three types of thrillers. There is the big ending twist, where a book of buildup leads up to one whodunit revelation. There is the obvious-twist-but-ability-to-guess-it-doesn't-really-matter-because-that's-not-the-point. And then there is the "so many twists, you cannot possibly guess all of them, or even half."

    That's the category occupied by

    . And how.

    I am not exaggerating when I say

    If you guess even a fifth of th

    There are three types of thrillers. There is the big ending twist, where a book of buildup leads up to one whodunit revelation. There is the obvious-twist-but-ability-to-guess-it-doesn't-really-matter-because-that's-not-the-point. And then there is the "so many twists, you cannot possibly guess all of them, or even half."

    That's the category occupied by

    . And how.

    I am not exaggerating when I say

    If you guess even a fifth of the plot twists, you've done the impossible. And with so many twists, it is really difficult to guess the final outcome. I doubt you will, and even if you do, I highly doubt you will guess the how and why.

    I've seen plenty of reviewers mention a few moments they found weak, and I have to say I'm not sure I noticed. Maybe I'm just less analytical than some. But I think the real reason behind my lack of notice comes from just how wrapped up I was in this story. Here's the thing:

    You are meant to find a kind of dark pleasure in the morally-shitty characters while also finding yourself lost in the dark atmosphere of the book. I don't think this is a book you're necessarily meant to question or think is

    ; it's a thriller you're meant to race through and hang on every word. And you know what?

    I don't agree that this is a weak or thin thriller, though - far from it. The narrative around poverty and what it can drive people to do is well-handled without being heavy-handed. I also

    how the book made a clear connection between being marginalized and being less-than-elite; the fact that many people in non-privileged positions are queer and nonwhite is something I see erased a lot in fiction emphasizing class, and it was good that the book made it clear.

    There's also a heavy focus on our lead character, Skye, who I absolutely adored. While I can't say I'd actually like her in real life, as a fictional character, she's written brilliantly. Her actions feel so highly motivated that I never found it hard to empathize with her. Even her decisions towards the ending felt real to me.

    I honestly have very few complaints about this book; while I think the meta-narrative of the book is not pro-slutshaming, there are several moments of slutshaming that

    go somewhat unchecked. There were also a few characters I thought had more potential: Drew and Paige are both incredibly intriguing characters and deserved much more development than they actually got. All that being said, though, this was a super interesting and entertaining read.

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  • Emma

    This was a really light read, pacey enough to keep you going till the end but without any real depth. If you read a lot of these type of books, they become easy to predict, and it means that ones like this offer no surprises. All the plot twists in the world don't matter if you couldn't care less about the people. This one definitely wasn't for me.

    ARC via Netgalley

  • Nina

    Candi Skye Thorn is a senior in high school and has been giving tarot readings for several years now. She doesn’t believe that she actually has psychic abilities but she knows a lot about the people at her school which helps her fake her readings. But when the town’s golden girl goes missing, she decides to help the police with her psychic visions because this time, she has some

    Candi Skye Thorn is a senior in high school and has been giving tarot readings for several years now. She doesn’t believe that she actually has psychic abilities but she knows a lot about the people at her school which helps her fake her readings. But when the town’s golden girl goes missing, she decides to help the police with her psychic visions because this time, she has some inside knowledge. Unfortunately though, things don’t go the way Skye expected them to go and suddenly the rest of her senior year is a lot more complicated than she thought it would be.

    ‘The Hanging Girl’ is the first one of Eileen Cook’s books I’ve read and I already know that it wasn’t the last one. I immediately fell in love with her writing style and I can’t wait to get more of it. If you’re looking for a great YA mystery thriller, this is the book you should choose.

    It kept me on the edge of my seat and I just flew through it because I needed to know what was going to happen next. There are several major plot twists in this book and I didn’t see any of them coming. They were very well done and actually made me gasp. Another thing I loved about this book was that it has pretty short chapters. It may sound weird but that’s actually a big plus for me. When I need to take a break for some unexpected reason, I just hate having to stop reading a book in the middle of a chapter just because I would have to read another thirty pages to get to the next one.

    The only thing that bothered me a little was that the characters just felt a little flat. I didn’t really feel connected with any of them, not even with Skye even though the book was written from her point of view. But this is just a minor thing and it definitely didn’t destroy my reading experience.

    All in all, this was a great book and I really, really enjoyed it. I decided to give it 4 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend you get yourself a copy once it comes out. I’m definitely going to get myself a copy of her other book ‘Without Malice’ now because it’s been on my TBR since it came out.

  • Rachel Hall

    The Hanging Girl by YA author, Eileen Cook, is an entertaining and very twisty thriller featuring a whip-smart and brilliantly flawed central protagonist in eighteen-year-old Skye Thorn, a girl who ditched her birth name of Candi as soon as she possibly could! Despite my opinion on the implausibility of the serpentine course this novel takes w

    The Hanging Girl by YA author, Eileen Cook, is an entertaining and very twisty thriller featuring a whip-smart and brilliantly flawed central protagonist in eighteen-year-old Skye Thorn, a girl who ditched her birth name of Candi as soon as she possibly could! Despite my opinion on the implausibility of the serpentine course this novel takes waxing and waning throughout there was enough substance between the pages to keep me hooked all the way. Skye has a gift for reading people, telling them what they want to hear, seeing if their body language matches their words and ultimately spinning a damn fine story. The more gullible element amongst her high school peers can easily be convinced that this equates to some kind of psychic connection and will even hand over ten bucks for the privilege of having their tarot cards read by her. As Skye herself says, "Destiny is like a boulder. Bulky and hard to move. It’s easier to leave it alone than to try to change it”, but in a bid to leave small town Michigan and her life with a mother who is convinced that she has visions (and even accepts recompense in the form of PayPal), Skye will do just about anything..

    Best friends with wealthier college bound Drew, a girl from the other side of town, Skye is determined to move to NYC and share an apartment, so much so that she has already lied to Drew about having savings in the bank. Given the big fat juicy lie that still hangs over Skye’s head and has passed into town legend, she can ill afford to let Drew down a second time. In short, Skye needs to make a quick buck fast. An audacious plot is unveiled, with the kidnapped daughter of the local draconian Judge Bonett, seventeen-year-old Paige, being subject to a ransom demand. In tandem with a shadowy figure going by the pseudonym of Pluto, Skye has agreed to conveniently feed some of her bogus visions to the cops, all in the name of getting them invested in her talents and delivering a well-timed uptick in Paige’s imminent risk of harm. Judge Bonett is about to launch his bid for office as a Republican candidate and author Eileen Cook’s thinly veiled swipes in the name of making political capital bring nothing to the novel. Paige Bonett is the spoilt blonde haired queen bee of the popular girls, but with a reputation for her habit of taking off and unreliability, it appears that it will take some time for Skye’s revelations to agitate the cops.

    Whilst it is one thing to accept the unworldly teenagers of high school being drawn into the ruse of Skye’s gift, the problem comes when she moves onto the cops, teachers and adult figures, which is a far harder proposition to swallow. To see her hoodwinking the cops and Judge Bonett requires a severe suspension of disbelief. Welcome amusement is however added by the susceptibility of school counsellor, Mr Lester, to Skye’s talents and her zany mother, Susan, a woman who swiftly jumps on the bandwagon of assisting the police and courting the media. By this point, The Hanging Girl, was losing its grip on me, reliant on the fact that Skye was so easily being taken seriously by the cops and steering dangerously close to being a carbon copy of the synopsis of Linwood Barclay novella, Never Saw It Coming. However, things are turned on their head when the identity of the mysterious Pluto is revealed and Judge Bonett fails to cough up what should be a trifling ransom for a man of his wealth. From this point onwards my lips are sealed as for optimal enjoyment the reader is best served by witnessing the subsequent flip-flop progression which shifts from Skye appearing to hold all the cards to dancing to someone else’s tune. From what should have been a straightforward execution of a simple ruse, the stakes are well and truly raised when Skye turns from a player into the one being played and it leaves her second guessing not one, but two, more ruthless individuals who are pulling the strings. If this stress isn’t dramatic enough, Paige is then discovered DEAD, something that was most definitely not on Skye’s agenda! All to quickly, Skye finds herself trying to gauge the motivations of everyone from Paige’s ex-boyfriend, her competitive best-friend and even the undercurrents between her and her father, in order to work out just who killed Paige and whether they are coming after her next..

    One of the reasons that I have begun to find many of these YA novels such a worthwhile read is because of the author’s willingness to craft genuinely realistic and diverse characters and offer something away from the mainstream stereotypes. Undoubtedly Skye is an excellent complete package with a complex history and her own battles with anxiety, meaning that as the tension ratchets higher, she is caught up in an associated battle of her mind over. Despite her talent for lying and lack of qualms about spouting a host of baloney in the name of psychic visions, at heart, there is an ultimately sympathetic and likeable girl behind Skye’s confident persona. Evidence comes in the shape of the what kidnapping scam backfiring, leaving her in a moral quagmire and facing a choice of coming clean or being implicated. I was really impressed with how Skye’s character evolved and learnt from her experiences. Suddenly from Skye priding herself on her ability for reading people, peeling back the layers and exposing their insecurities she has been resoundingly beaten at her own game.

    As for the supporting cast, Eileen Cook bombards her readers with every trope under the sun, from the overly earnest school counsellor, Mr Lester, to the precocious brat tendencies of Paige and her crowd of girlfriends. Even with regards to the police investigation there was good cop, Detective Jay and bad cop, Detective Chan, himself a man who deals in facts and has no time for psychic phenomena. The character that I was left pondering the most was the enigmatic Drew, and for supposedly being best friends with the obviously intelligent Skye, Drew seemed to be rather vacuous. Aside from their domestic circumstances being diametrically opposed there is an obvious lack of chemistry in their dynamic. I wan’t convinced at all by the friendship when in actual fact, Drew and Skye share each have their own secrets and share next to nothing.

    Towards the ending, despite the about turn twist in the final pages, I really felt that The Hanging Girl copped out and went a little too heavy on the moralistic element and in the words of one detective to Skye:

    All in all, I suspect that the rather numerous twists will keep a YA audience of around 12-14 years reading, but for anyone over that age bracket this will prove a little too simplistic. Compared to the teen girl politics of Megan Abbott, The Hanging Girl just feels a little wooden, and Cook opts for an increasingly convoluted succession of twists. I confess to being somewhat miffed and rather let-down by the discovery of the killers identity, and whilst it raises questions of whether the prime movers get what they deserve, I was more flummoxed by the killers identify and justification as it seems to appear out of the blue.

    An underwhelming execution of a plot which had a real abundance of potential. I do however plan to read more of this author and already have the highly rated, With Malice, awaiting.

    I received a free copy of this book from Readers First and my review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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