Book Review: Better Left Buried by Belinda Frisch

Title: Better Left Buried

Author: Belinda Frisch

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Better Left Buried is a gritty coming of age tale about the power of repressed memories and the loyal, emotional connection forged between lifelong friends. Touching on issues of suicide, addiction, and mental health, this story will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

A spirit board, a murder, and a cold case that refuses to stay hidden.

Harmony Wolcott’s already difficult life is about to get harder when her recurring nightmare takes a paranormal twist. Haunted, terrified, and questioning her sanity, Harmony must relive an event she refuses to remember, even if it costs her life.

What starts as a message from beyond the grave turns into something dangerous that won’t be ignored. The only way to stop it is to understand who it is and what they want. Together with her best friend, Brea, Harmony investigates her childhood, starting with the mysterious street address someone or something has given her.

The dilapidated home seems like something from another lifetime, a place of mixed memories where Harmony and Brea’s friendship had started, and where their families’ lives had intersected years earlier. What happened there might well be the town of Reston’s best kept secret.

A tragic discovery threatens to unravel Harmony’s patched together life, bringing those she loves down with her and proving with devastating consequences that sometimes the past is better left buried.

In Better Left Buried, teenager Harmony Wolcott pulled the worst card you can pull in life. She’s haunted by nightmares, her mother is an alcoholic trying to drink herself to an early grave, and pretty much everything in her life that could go wrong, has so far gone wrong. She’s a tragic character, a girl whose past forces her to make one wrong choice after another. The only bulb of light in her life would be her best friend, Brea. Brea is always there for her, she’s bright and shiny whereas everything else in Harmony’s life is dark and dull.

Harmony lives with her boyfriend Adam since her mom can’t take care of her life, and she’s constantly running about trying to make sure her mom doesn’t kill herself, and meanwhile trying to persuade social workers not to put her in a group home. Like that isn’t tough enough, Brea’s mom complains a lot about her spending time with Harmony, and their friendship goes downhill fast. And every night, Harmony is plagued by nightmares and ends up waking up at the exact same time.

As a reader, you can’t help but root for Harmony. While she makes one wrong choice after another, you keep on hoping that she’ll somehow get back up and put her life back together. The writing is excellent and pulls you in from the first page.

Now, why the book lost a stars. It was marketed as a horror book (messages from the beyond, the nightmare taking a paranormal twist) so I expected a ghost. Imagine my dissapointment when the main storyline didn’t focus on the paranormal at all. If anything, the book is more like a mystery or a dark contemporary YA. I wouldn’t classify it as horror at all.

If you go in expecting horror…well, you’ll be dissapointed. If you don’t go in expecting a horror story, or something paranormal, you’ll find an interesting read with a slightly predictable ending, but with enjoyable characters and an interesting dynamic between them.

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