Trask Academy of Performing Arts is an elite, secretive academy set on its own private island. Funded by wealthy sponsors, it teaches only the best students the arts of singing, dancing, acting and writing. But in an atmosphere of intense competition everyone wants to be the star and as the bodies begin the pile up who will survive the show?
Jinxed is best described as a young adult fiction horror/slasher with some truly gruesome and well-described murders. However, for me it commits the cardinal sin of Young Adult fiction in that it tries to pass off some truly appalling writing as ‘Young Adult’. Whenever I see this happen, I always get offended on my teenage self’s behalf – my love of a good story and well-written prose hasn’t changed even though the themes I choose to read about has. Young Adult should be enjoyable for people of any age and I’ve read some great YA books recently that have shown me this can be the case. In Jinxed, the writing in a lot of places is juvenile and patronising with cringe worthy sentences like ‘his maleness hoped his good girl was about to go bad’ and ‘my pretend watch is telling me it’s time to get out of here for real’. Thankfully this does get a little better towards the second half of the book where the murders take the forefront of the action.
A lot of reviews have pointed out that the plot is predictable and I do have to agree on this. I think part of the problem is that it is set on a small island where most of the students have gone back home for the holidays so there is only a small pool of suspects. Added to this the fact that the author unnecessarily gives away the gender of the killer in the first kill and the odds are heavily in your favour of guessing who it is before the ending.
Part of the reason I picked up this book to read was the premise of it’s blurb but actually the superstition elements of the murders are actually very weak. For example (no spoilers!), the first kill is meant to be themed around opening an umbrella indoors. The killer chases the victim to their room, they grab the first thing to hand – the umbrella, to fight back and whilst fighting it opens. The killer is described as looking just as surprised as the victim that this happens and the victim then gets killed by being pushed out of a window. Hardly a pre-meditated modus operandi themed around superstition!
Whilst the killings themselves are well-described and the stakes and pacing high throughout the book the plot itself lets it down massively. The motivation of the killer makes no sense, the play that is a core element doesn’t work either – I couldn’t work out what it was actually about to fulfil the aims it was supposed to be have been written to achieve. The final ending, whilst creepy also makes no sense in regards to the previous scene.
Overall Jinxed is a fun, fast paced slasher of a story but it’s writing style and poor plot just turn it into a bit of a mess. Thanks to NetGalley and Vesuvian Books for a chance to read the ARC in exchange for a (very) honest review!