Magical Realism Mystery YA Suspense YA

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain Review

If you’re looking for a supernatural thriller to spice up your to-be-read stacks, Ginny Myers Sain’s debut, Dark and Shallow Lies, delivers atmospheric suspense and a breathless sense of foreboding. 

“The dead? They lie. Just like the rest of us.”

Ginny Myers Sain

Set in a small, swampy island town full of psychics and buried secrets in the bayous of Louisiana, La Cachette is the ‘psychic capital of the world.’ It’s also home to Grey, who spends the school year at boarding school in Arkansas. In February, Grey’s best friend Elora went missing. Now, six months later, Grey is finally home for the summer (staying with maternal grandmother, Honey) and determined to find out what happened to her twin flame: was it boyfriend (Case), an out-of-town stranger, or a shape-shifting monster called the rougarou?

In a town full of psychics, how can no one know what happened? The answer, someone does; they’re just not telling. In La Cachette, everyone has a strong psychic ability, from hearing the voices of the dead to being in two places at once. Everyone but Elora. At least, that’s the way it used to be. Because ever since Elora’s disappearance, Grey (named by her deceased mother for the color of her aura), has been getting visions — visions of Elora in her last moments. 

While Grey helps out at her grandmother’s bookstore/ psychic center (the Mystic Rose), she reconnects with what’s left of the Summer Children (ten kids born between the vernal and autumn equinox to eight different families). At least, the seven who are still alive. Elora’s presumed dead. Twins Ember and Orli were found drowned in a pond more than a decade earlier. Being one of the Summer Children is not good for your life expectancy. However, the Summer Children (of whom she’s closest to Elora’s step-brother, Hart) aren’t very forthcoming with information. In La Cachette, everyone has secrets; the boardwalk isn’t the only thing that’s slowly rotting. I had theories. I thought I had the mystery all figured out. I did not. Oh, the plot twists.

There is plenty of eerie to go around. The mysterious practically seeps through the pages of this YA mystery — and the swamps of La Cachette. A town right on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, which regularly floods and is thus entirely built on stilts. The setting, in a word, is breathtaking. And also so powerfully developed that it becomes a character of the story, presenting opposition (and danger). You don’t wander the swamps after dark. There are snakes and a place called the gator pond, with resident Willie Nelson. Plunge into the river and risk being swept away.

What’s more to love: the Cajun culture that runs through Dark and Shallow Lies, an unexpected love triangle, all the twists this young adult novel takes (truly an unexpected ending), magical realism (that gave me Raven Cycle series feels), themes of loss and grief receive some of the best exploration I’ve read in a YA novel, will probably make you cry. 

Trigger warnings: physical abuse, murder, alcoholism, smoking, swearing, suicide.

Book: Dark and Shallow Lies
Published: Razorbill
Pages: 432
Publication Date: September 7th, 2021
Age Range: 13 – 18
Stars: 4.5/5

Penguin Teen kindly sent me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.


  1. This book sounds AMAZING!! I really want to read it!! It’s going on my wish list. I don’t think I am ready to read it now but I definitely want to read it! Fabulous review, Meredith, enthralling!

    Liked by 2 people

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