Monday, October 5, 2015

Review ~ Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier

Series: standalone
Genre: Adult thriller
Publication Date: October 5th, 2015
Publisher: Pocket Star
Goodreads Description
Fans of Chelsea Cain and Lisa Gardner will devour this edgy thriller about the gruesome secrets hidden beneath a small-town amusement park. From the author of Creep, Freak, and The Butcher, Jennifer Hillier’s “fine knack for creating hideous killers” (Booklist) is vividly on display.

Welcome to Wonderland. By day, it’s a magical place boasting a certain retro charm. Excited children, hands sticky with cotton candy, run frenetically from the Giant Octopus ride to the Spinning Sombrero, while the tinkling carnival music of the giant Wonder Wheel—the oldest Ferris wheel in the Pacific Northwest—fills the air. But before daybreak, an eerie feeling descends. Maybe it’s the Clown Museum, home to creepy wax replicas of movie stars and a massive collection of antique porcelain dolls. Or maybe it’s the terrifyingly real House of Horrors. Or…maybe it’s the dead, decaying body left in the midway for all the Wonder Workers to see.

Vanessa Castro’s first day as deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, is off to a bang. The unidentifiable homeless man rotting inside the tiny town’s main tourist attraction is strange enough, but now a teenage employee—whose defiant picture at the top of the Wonder Wheel went viral that same morning—is missing. As the clues in those seemingly disparate crimes lead her down a mysterious shared path of missing persons that goes back decades, she suspects the seedy rumors surrounding the amusement park’s dark history might just be true. She moved to Seaside to escape her own scandalous past, but has she brought her family to the center of an insidious killer’s twisted game? Acclaimed author Jennifer Hillier’s bone-chilling thriller is masterful and fast-paced, hurtling toward a shocking, bloody conclusion.
The title caught my eye when I was browsing Netgalley. Then I read the description and was very intrigued! I've been wanting to give more adult books a try, so I decided to request this one.
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had a surprising experience with Wonderland. I wasn't impressed at first. It felt like a very meh read. I convinced that the mystery was super obvious and the murderer was right in your face. The park wasn't surprising enough--not enough secrets were involved. That was the first half.

The second half was so much better. One thing right after another showed what a creepy, terrible things were connected to Wonderland. It was a LOT. It was kinda mind-boggling, the number of secrets that were uncovered. Also, I ended up not being as disappointed in the mystery as I was expecting. Even though I started out disappointed, I finished the book feeling a little impressed. The mystery was a really nice build up and I really liked how much went into it. It was also very intense near the end. I couldn't pull myself away from the book!

As for the other parts of the book, I really liked Vanessa. She had this no-nonsense attitude that was needed in a place where the police approached cases too subjectively. I liked how she and the rest of the characters had secrets. No one were what they appeared to be.

As much as the second half improved my view of this book, it was still tough to connect to throughout. It felt like there could've been more. It could've been a pageturner. Instead, only the last quarter was. There could've been more to the characters as well. I liked the secrets they had, but they still didn't have much depth to them. They weren't developed in a way that made them distinct characters or memorable ones.

Overall, Wonderland was a nice mystery that ended up surprising me. While it didn't reach its full potential, I did end up liking this book. It held more twists than I expected.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge

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