Sunday, March 17, 2024

Today's read... Shed Girl by Milana Marsenich


by Milana Marsenich
YA Crime  /   Mystery
220 pages

·                Trigger warnings: young people in peril; abusive family and stranger relationships

Shed Girl is a contemporary crime novel set in the small fictional town of Annie’s Court on Washington’s northern coast.

Annie’s Court has a runaway problem. Runaways arrive and then they disappear. Juliet French, an old runaway herself, does tarot readings for petty cash at the Farmers Market. Across the market Tony LeCrosse sells toys. Juliet notices the runaways flock to LeCrosse. Just before they go missing.

After witnessing the abduction of a young boy, Detective Benson Picard solicits Juliet’s help. Already determined to find the boy, she agrees to Benson’s terms. Juliet, a strong female lead, feels the danger in the cards when Tony LeCrosse invites her to a party. He wants her to entertain his guests with tarot readings. Juliet balks at the word “entertain” but agrees anyway. When Kyle shows up at LeCrosse’s party, Juliet’s spine “turns to stardust and fairies rush in.” The two team-up to find the missing kids. But Kyle has secrets of his own.

 Amazon link:

Goodreads link:


Serious problems surrounding run-away children mix with crime, mystery, and a touch of magic to form a potent read.

Juliet has just turned eighteen and lives in a shed on the edge of a small town after escaping abuse from her mother's boyfriend. She's not living the high-life but gets by, which is more than most of the runaways, who flee to the town. But then, many who show up, soon disappear. Juliet has her own problems as she tries to survive with only her tarot cards to earn money from tourists. When she gains the notice of a policeman, he offers to hire her to assist him with the disappearance cases. After all, she has a special connection to the runaways that he could never have. But even with her special skills and a dusting of real magic, searching for clues becomes a dangerous game.

This read dives deep into the serious problem surrounding runaways and the situations they try to escape from. It doesn't go into details, which keeps it appropriate for the young adult level, but still tugs at the heartstrings and makes the terrible circumstances clear. Juliet's background clicks her solidly into the group, gaining not only sympathy but also a bit of respect. Her life is far from perfect, but she's dealing with everything the best she can and doesn't play the victim. Even her attitude toward her mother is level-headed. She takes risks but isn't stupid and is easy to root for the entire way through. 

The mystery is very well laid. Each step brings the solution closer, and while some aspects fall obviously into place, enough pieces remain in the shadows to make it a grabbing read until the end. Juliet finds herself weaving between the police, a tent-town haven for runaways, and several locals, while still maintaining relationships with other runaways and trying her best to string through the suspected villains. This creates a web of subplots, which are as intriguing as the main plot itself. 

It's a read, which hits upon several difficult themes and eases in tons of heart. Add the dusting of magic, and it's a rich tale with so much to enjoy and dig into until the last page.

And here she is...

Milana Marsenich lives in Northwest Montana near Flathead Lake at the base of the beautiful Mission Mountains. She enjoys quick access to the mountains and has spent many hours hiking the wilderness trails with friends and dogs.

As a natural listener and a therapist, she has witnessed amazing generosity and courage in others. She first witnessed this in her hometown of Butte, Montana, a mining town with a rich history and the setting for Copper Sky, her first novel. Copper Sky was chosen as a 2018 Spur Award finalist for Best Western Historical Novel.

She has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from Montana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She has previously published in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, The Polishing Stone, The Moronic Ox, BookGlow, and Feminist Studies. She has a short story included in The Montana Quarterly book: Montana, Warts and All. She has three published novels, Copper Sky, The Swan Keeper, and Beautiful Ghost, and one popular history book, Idaho Madams. Her soon-to-be-released novel, Shed Girl: A Juliet French Mystery, will be available January 18, 2024.

In addition to Copper Sky being a Spur Award finalist in 2018, The Swan Keeper was a Willa Award finalist in 2019, and her short story, Wild Dogs, won the Laura Award for short fiction in 2020. She is a member of Western Writers of America and of Women Writing the West.




No comments: