Cover Reveal: GIRLS WHO BURN
Cover reveal! Jessica Goodman meets Jesse Q. Sutanto in this twisty enemies- to-lovers thriller, full of secrets, privilege, and murder. Girls Who Burn by MK Pagano is coming to shelves August 6, 2024!
The summer before her senior year, Addie hurled the worst words she could think of at her sister—and hours later, Fiona was found dead at the bottom of a ravine. The police ruled her death an accident, but Addie disagrees. Her ballet-prodigy sister didn’t slip and fall; she was pushed. And her number one suspect: Thatcher Montgomery, the rich boy down the street who always had a thing for Fiona. No one believes Addie—least of all Thatcher’s cousin, Seth, Addie’s childhood rival and the boy she’s always loved to hate. Arguing with Seth is easy; living with her own questionable choices involving Seth the night Fiona died . . . much harder.
Then, one year later, Thatcher is found dead at the bottom of the same ravine and Addie is forced to admit she was wrong. To catch the real killer, she’ll have to seek help from Seth—the only one she knows is innocent. As they dodge corrupt police and his even more corrupt family, Addie will have to decide if her growing bond with Seth is stronger than familial ties, and if their link will keep her safe—or turn her into the next victim.
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Cover design by Jess Jenkins
I don’t know who takes off first. Only that Seth and I are tearing down the path to the wall, toward the shouts.
The trees are everywhere, branches reaching for my arms, scraping my skin. My breath is loud in my ears. I trip on something, a tree root, a rock. My hands barely hit the dirt before Seth is hauling me up. And then he’s off running again, and I’m staggering after him.
We reach the wall—five feet high, made of flat, worn stones, covered in lichen in places, ancient looking. Seth leaps over it in one bound; I have to scramble up, my foot finding the hole I knew would be there. I jump down, the impact reverberating through my knees, and then I’m taking off after Seth through the trees on the other side.
I don’t hear another shout. There’s nothing but the crickets and cicadas and the sounds of our pursuit, our breaths, our feet scrambling over rocks and fallen branches. The dark presses in on all sides, hot and suffocating.
I round a bend, and there’s the big stone circle we spent hours digging around as children, looking for treasure. I haven’t been onto this part of the Bier property in years, not since our last treasure hunt ended the way they all did, in disappointment. I fly past it, after Seth, the woods loud in my ears.
And then I hear the trickling of water. The ravine.
My throat feels tight, my breathing shallow. Seth skids to a halt in front of me. I nearly run into him. A foot in front of us is where the land slopes sharply downward, culminating in a shallow, rocky stream twenty feet below. I strain to hear anything: that shout, that voice. But there’s nothing.
I finally regain my breath. “Who was that?”
Seth’s eyes are wild as he scans the landscape around us. He gulps in a breath. “I—I’m not sure.”
I have no idea what to think. There’s no sign of anyone here except us. But the darkness is full of unseen things, and I think of the other theories around Fiona’s death, the ones I had no time for: that it was the ghost of the last Bier brother that killed my sister, that he still haunts these woods seeking vengeance on the brother who supposedly murdered him.
I am logical, practical, don’t believe in anything I can’t see with my eyes, feel with my hands. But I also grew up on Bier’s End. I spent my childhood running around behind an abandoned mansion searching for buried treasure left by a cursed family, according to local lore. And one thing is certain: Something killed Fiona less than a year ago, right here, on a night like tonight. And standing here with the woods behind me and the hot, seething dark pressing at my back, the cold white moonlight making everything over into a silver-bleached world, it’s all too easy to imagine I hear the slinking of something heavy through dead leaves, growing nearer.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Someone is watching us. I’m sure of it.
I spin around, one hand grabbing Fiona’s necklace, the other clutching on to Seth’s arm. The crickets are reaching a crescendo, so loud I’m certain they’d drown out the sounds of anyone coming toward us. My heart hammers in my chest. I open my mouth, ready to let out a scream.
Seth’s arm goes rigid under my hand. “There.”
And he’s running away from me, north along the ravine. I don’t see what he saw, but I follow as fast as I can, not wanting to be left alone.
His legs are longer than mine. When I round the bend in the trail, I don’t see him. “Seth?”
Just then I hear the sounds of scuffling.
I stumble forward through the dark, aware of the empty space of the ravine to my left. I round another bend to find Seth at a rocky outcropping, staring over the edge of the ravine.
He inhales sharply, and I forget about what we heard to send us shooting through the trees, forget why we’re here. I think he’s seen something having to do with Fiona and hurry to his side to get a look.
At first I can’t make sense of it.
Long legs, clad in khaki pants, contorted at an odd angle. Loafers. A button-down shirt, silvery blue in the moonlight. A shock of brown hair. Eyes, looking up at us, wide and staring.
It’s Thatcher Montgomery.
And he’s dead.