Fiction Fri YA | #CYBILS2023 Book Reviews 12.29.2023

It was a dark and stormy night …

or should we say a dark and stormy life? Today’s reviews feature characters dealing with different kinds of darkness.

The Black Queen is a YA murder mystery. Duchess Simmons is sure she knows who killed her best friend, and she’s determined to “go to the dark side” [befriending her prime suspect] to prove it. As with any fast-paced thriller, there are twists, turns, and secrets.

If ever there was a symbol of darkness, it is a crow. So when a “mysterious crow” starts following Damon Quinn everywhere, you know where the story is going. Or do you?

Teases to make you want to cozy up to these books on a dark … you get the picture!

Summary excerpts come from Goodreads. Click the cover to add this book to your TBR.


Cindy, on behalf of Kiss the Book, review by Sydney G. – As far as teen murder mysteries go, The Black Queen definitely holds the reader’s attention. It is full of twists and turns, and the scandalous revelations throughout ensure the pacing doesn’t sag. Many of those revelations are pretty dark (see the content warnings above), so readers who are young, immature, and/or triggered by any of these topics should definitely find something else to read. Those who can handle the content, however, will find a suspenseful (if occasionally preachy) mystery novel with interesting characters and a plot that will likely keep them guessing until the end.

The NextGenLibrarian @ Goodreads – Heavy is the head that wears the crown…👑This was such a fast-paced YA thriller with many red herrings to the point where I didn’t know how it would end. @brownboywriting not only does a great job with the mystery, but also with teaching about race relations in the South and how much work there is still left to do. This novel hits the nail on the head on a lot of prevalent and timely issues and I loved it! 5⭐️

Deborah @ Goodreads – One of the most timely written novels I have read recently. Strong focus on race relations and what happens when you overly judge based upon someone’s race and background. Fast paced, twisty, kept me on my TOES. I thought I had it figured half way through but was halfway wrong. The re-budding friendship between Duchess and Tinsley had me rooting for them, as they navigate their way together, to try to figure out who killed Nova. Definitely one of my top 10 of the year!


Jo the Book Girl @ Goodreads – Things the become weird as Damon begins entering dreams that feel incredibly lifelike. In them, he learns from his ancestors about his cultural roots. Like the story, the illustrations are cold and dark. Sibal beautifully drew the perfect illustrations to make the reader feel and understand Damon. I felt sorry for Damon and anger with his mother. His therapist aggravated me because he didn’t seem to take Damon’s problems seriously. I hope Visions of the Crow is just the beginning. I want Damon to develop a relationship with his ancestors, his mother to recover and find companionship in Journey.