21 July 2020

Review | Trampled Crown by Kirby Kellogg


Valerie Barnes is tired. Tired of wrangling snarky teens through their math lessons, tired of helicopter moms with no respect and even less kindness, and – most importantly – tired of hearing about Canary Lane High’s upcoming homecoming dance. She’s been planning it for months and promises, if only to herself, to give the kids a night they’ll never forget.

But when strange things start happening and people’s lives are threatened in the days before the dance, that promise becomes more ominous than ever. Even the administration is getting antsy, and fingers are pointing to Valerie. With time running out and stakes getting higher, it’s up to Valerie to keep her students safe, clear her name, and figure out who’s been threatening all of their lives.

Book 10 in the Rewind-or-Die series: imagine your local movie rental store back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, remember all those fantastic covers. Remember taking those movies home and watching in awe as the stories unfolded in nasty rainbows of gore, remember the atmosphere and textures. Remember the blood.


   
Valerie is a high school math teacher, struggling with planning the high school homecoming. (...prom? More on that later...). She wants it to be perfect, but the kids on the dance committee aren't showing much interest. They'd rather be making "your mom" jokes and doodling than picking a theme for the dance. Someone is making threats and the administration starts acting strangely. When the finger gets pointed at Valerie, she has to work hard to clear her name and find the real culprit. Is someone trying to stop the dance from happening or is there a deeper vendetta at hand?

Valerie is burnt out and tired. Tired of the ungrateful kids, tired of dealing with pretentious entitled parents, and tired of having to work so hard to prove that she's not involved with the threats. She has a past that she's trying to leave behind, which is what enticed her to move to Canary Falls. She wanted to go someplace no one knew her so she could start fresh. Some of her family essentially disowned her when she came out. She has a sister that hasn't spoken to her in a decade and even though she visits her mother in assisted living often, her own mother can't even say the words out loud. An accident as a child left her with a limp and dependent on a cane. She's a determined woman and has certainly persevered despite all the things that have happened to her. 

Trampled Crown's strength lies in that of its protagonist. The secondary characters were somewhat bland. Other than Tiffany, a previous student turned teacher, and Liz, Valerie's crush, there weren't many that stood out. I also found myself consistently annoyed by the use of "prom" and "homecoming" to describe the dance. Which one is it? That shouldn't have bothered me as much as it did, but I found myself focused on it. As far as the mystery of prom wrecker, there's a bit of a misdirection attempt, but in the end, there weren't any surprises. Still, it was a fun read and rounds out Rewind or Die's paranormal and creature filled offerings.