“Seven Dirty Secrets” Book Review

There are seven secrets. “One caused the fall. One did nothing. One saw it all. One didn’t care. One used their head. One played the hero. One was left for dead.” 

When Cleo gets a suspicious invitation on her eighteenth birthday to participate in a  scavenger hunt, she thinks her best friend is playing a prank on her. Without knowing that things are about to take a turn for the sinister, as the scavenger hunt unfolds, she realizes that the hints seem to do with her dead boyfriend Declan, who died mysteriously on a rafting trip on her birthday the year before. The clues hit a bit too close to home for Cleo and leave her with flashbacks to all the fights, dates, and intimate memories with Declan. As the story unfolds and the secrets start to spill out, she begins to question who she can actually trust – not her best friend, not her brother, not her current boyfriend, and definitely not the police. Will she be able to find who is behind the scavenger hunt in time to save the ones she loves or will she pay the price for what really happened on the rafting trip? Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards is a thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat and looking over your shoulder. 

Natalie D. Richards is an author known for her thriller and mystery books. It’s not hard to understand why. In Seven Dirty Secrets, Richards reveals just enough information to make the reader wonder what would happen next. The story opens up by plunging the reader straight in, with Cleo finding the mysterious hint for the scavenger hunt. Any reader is gripped as they adventure with Cleo and she realizes that she is in fact the one being hunted. There is great character development throughout the book and Richards’ descriptions make one feel as if they are in-person, next to Cleo and her friends while they try to solve each turn in the mystery. This book is cleverly written and throws curve balls that one does not see coming – like who is behind the cryptic phone calls? It is effortless to read, with the tone being easy to follow and undemanding. Richards makes good use of descriptive language and creates images for the reader to visualize, encouraging one to imagine the scenes unfolding like a movie in one’s head while reading. Richards is clever in the way that she gives slight clues throughout the novel about the mystery and uses cues that one would not expect to weave intrigue. There is a lot of misdirection within the novel with moments where one cannot fully understand the reasoning behind the scene, but at the end of the story, there is a complete twist that pulls these scenes together to complete the mystery. 

While easy to read, the writing in this book is very simple. Perhaps too simple, to the point where it can feel that there are many missed opportunities to make the language of the novel more intense, mysterious, and leery. The audience of the storyline is young adults and it is written for teenagers, but by taking opportunities to improve the speech and vocabulary level, the book can become less targeted for tweens and perhaps a better read for older young adults. Since this book is so fast-paced there are not enough connections between Cleo’s relationship with her friends and how they came to be. The introductions of the characters are very quick and brief and one might want a more in-depth view of the characters to help solve the mystery they are involved in. A shift in this direction would take the book from being a good rainy day read to become a gripping holiday book that one simply cannot put down. 

While some of the characters and their relationships aren’t developed enough, the true purpose of the book is to keep its audience interested, curious, and feel uneasy. Richards does a brilliant job fulfilling this. Readers are in for a whirlwind of emotions and suspense in this who-done-it story. A quick, fun read for young adult thrill readers, this story truly delivers on shock value.