Review of A Line in the Dark

A Line in the Dark
by Malinda Lo
High School    Dutton    282 pp.    g
10/17    978-0-735-22742-2    $17.99

Jess’s feelings for her best friend Angie are strong and complicated — a mix of longstanding affection, mutual dependence, protectiveness, and unrequited longing. Jess and Angie are both queer and out, but have never been together. When Angie falls for Margot, a wealthy, charismatic student from the nearby tony boarding school, Jess’s jealousy builds. Her concerns about Margot’s motives are mostly warranted, but Angie persists in the hope that the four of them — Angie, Jess, Margot, and Margot’s hostile best friend Ryan — can become close. Then, in the aftermath of a party, one of the four girls dies from a gunshot. Who killed her? Lo’s storytelling is taut and vivid as she expertly doles out clues (Margot’s history of bullying; Ryan’s secret stash of love letters). Post-murder, the book pulls back from Jess’s perspective to a third-person narration interspersed with police interview transcripts, forcing readers to confront Jess’s unreliability as a narrator as they attempt to piece together means, motive, and opportunity. Meanwhile, Jess’s ongoing art-class project puts a supernatural spin on issues of rivalry, friendship, possessiveness, and mistaken intentions, complicating readers’ assumptions about what is really going on. Drawing every character as complicit in unexpected and thought-provoking ways, Lo spins an addictive psychological mystery.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Claire Gross
Claire Gross
Claire Gross is the youth librarian at the Egleston branch of the Boston Public Library and a former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.