The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Deadly Little Similitude (review: Deadly Little Secrets by L. Stolarz)

Deadly Little Secret
Laurie Faria Stolarz

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...
Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.
Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help--but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.

(Blurb courtesy of

This is another book that I bought based on it's really lovely cover. I really have to stop doing that, as I definitely have ambivalent feelings about the story line this gorgeous cover art was hiding.

OK, so first off we have a girl hanging around in a school parking lot when ... gasp ... an out of control vehicle comes careering towards her! Oh NO! What will she do??? Well, luckily a passing stranger leaps to her rescue, seemingly out of nowhere, and pushes her to safety. My oh my – and he's Extremely Good Looking. Having rescued her he disappears, only to show up in her science class as her... wait for it.... lab partner. He proceeds to be extremely stand-offish and being near her seems to make him uncomfortable. Unfortunate really, as she is rapidly becoming obsessed with him and his mysterious ways. Oh.... did I mention that his touch makes her go all wibbly-wobbly? If you read that anywhere else, do you think you could guess the book? So far, so Twilight, right? WRONG. This is, in fact, the beginning of Deadly Little Secret which has nothing to do with vampires, whatsoever. It says a lot for my faith in positive reviews (of which I had read a few for this book) that I kept reading at this point – nothing pees me off more than unoriginality. Don't even get me started on the later scene that is basically a teen version of the potter's wheel scene from the movie Ghost....

What really annoys me the most about these similarities, is that Deadly Little Secret has a new and interesting premise and could totally have managed without trying (be it consciously or sub-consciously) to jump on the Twilight bandwagon. Our main protagonist, Bella Camelia (yes, that really is her name and at no point does anyone even shorten it) is a likeable girl who carries the story ably. My only issue with her is that for a girl who is obviously meant to be quite responsible (her parents trust her, her boss gives her keys to her work etc.) she doesn't always make the right choices when she is quite clearly in danger. Although this is semi explained by her trying to protect her parents (who have other stuff going on), I honestly think that she would not have let things come to a head in the way that they do.

Her love interest, the mysterious Ben, is also well written. We don't find out a whole lot about his day to day personality as he is quite busy being tortured by his past, but he does tortured well and there are plenty of hints that a nice guy lies beneath his angst ridden surface.
Camelia's best friends, Kimmie and Wes, quite frankly drove me up the wall. Yes, they are funny and snarky and yes, Kimmie's self-designed clothes sound really quite awesome but I have no idea why Camelia is friends with them. They don't appear to have anything in common at all. Also, once Camelia confesses to them that she appears to be victim of a clearly unhinged stalker, they don't really seem to take her all that seriously. Yet at the end of the book, she apologises to them for not taking enough interest in their lives while she was being stalked and threatened! Camelia – get some new friends. These ones suck.

Saying all of that, the plot line of mysterious-boy-with-interesting-secret versus deranged-pink-pj- sending-lunatic actually had me completely hooked. While I figured out what was going on fairly early, I still found myself pretty spooked by the storyline and the denouement was extremely thrilling. I am keen to find out what happens next – I feel that the crux of the story (Ben's secret) has only just been touched on and I'm interested to see where the author takes us with that. However, if the next book starts with Camelia finding a best friend who then becomes part of a love triangle with her and Ben while possibly having a mysterious secret of his own will I continue reading? Nope. I'll just pick up New Moon instead.


Lauren said…
I've read mixed reviews of this one, and I still have mixed feelings after your fabulously straight-up review, but on the whole I think I would like this. Ironically, it's the similarities to a certain other book you've noted that make me think I'd like it! I really enjoy the whole ordinary girl / mysterious boy formula even when it doesn't come with a huge amount of originality. Like jelly and ice-cream, it's the kind of classic combo that never gets old for me. The MC's friends sound super annoying though.
Splendibird said…
You should read it! It's not unenjoyable and I also like that combination (and jelly and ice cream, mmmmm) - I just felt that in this case the similarities were almost like rewrites... But I will definitely be reading Deadly Little Lies because the storyline and concept of Deadly Little Secret still hold up to scrutiny despite the Twi-ness!
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