**This is for the UK version being released on February 6**
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
Trigger/Content Warnings From Her Site:
-Graphic violence and body horror. Gore.
-On the page character death, parental death, and animal death (the animals are not pets).
-Behavior and descriptive language akin to self-harm, and references to such.
-Food scarcity and starvation. Emesis.
-A scene depicting chemical gassing.
-Suicide and suicidal ideation.
-Non-consensual medical treatment.
No one knows, and though they’d want to care they care more about surviving. Under quarantine with supplies brought it, its survival of the fittest.
The ‘Tox’ is a dangerous illness, it changes you inside and out, and the Raxter girls are all infected. It manifests in different ways, but one thing that’s noticeable is that it seems to easily kill the teachers more than the others, there are only two adults left and the Raxter girls are dropping in numbers as well. So, what is this Tox and where does it come from?
This book was chilling from start to finish, the girls are most certainly ‘wilder’ because of the tox, but it seems some already had that ‘ability’ to be wild just tucked inside themselves.
The disease is gruesome, we’re not talking about a virus that gives you different pretty features that though weird aren’t ugly, no, we have second spines jutting out, shut/sealed eyes, bloody pus, and more.
So…if you have a delicate constitution you may want to pass on this haha.
The girls are all flawed and horrible and good in their own ways and the close relationships are great to read. I really felt connected to their plight and wanted them to persevere. BUT I also saw the dangers they were to themselves and others as they continued to morph from the Tox.
The ending got me so bad, I was shrieking haha, ‘whyyyy,’ possibly falling to my knees for dramatic effect. It was more the style of the ending than the actual content, if you’re looking for some satisfying closure, *laughs* this isn’t it.
There is what you might call a lack of humanity in this story, it’s not about that, though there are glimpses of it, it’s about the wildness that is slipping through the girls and the island they’re on. And though I was really invested in this story from start to finish I think it could be hard for some to connect with the girls, they do horrible things and though you know they’re doing them without little choice/because they’re infected it can still cause a bit of a rift for the reader and characters.
Either way, I sincerely loved this novel and found it really gripping, it wasn’t fast-paced but it did keep the intensity at about 150% the whole way through.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC of this in exchange for my honest review. Full review to come.