Publication date: August 5th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Fal...

Review || Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis

Publication date: August 5th, 2021

From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.

But when her school nemesis is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.

Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…

Read now

Kat Ellis opens the curtain on this small town thriller with the introduction to our protagonist, Ava Thorn. Ava, a senior in high school, has been ousted from her childhood home, the manor and grounds of the once-thriving Thorn apple orchards which has been owned by the family for generations. To make matters so much worse, it's been sold by her uncle to the one person Ava despises most—the man who collided with her parents' car and who she blames for her parents' deaths—Madoc Miller. When one of the Millers turns up dead and Ava is the one to discover the body, rumors start to fly of Dead Eyed Sadie, a blight upon the Thorn family history.  But is Sadie really behind the death or is it less supernatural?

The small-town setting of Burden Falls is absolutely dripping with superstitions from Dead Eyed Sadie to the drawings of the evil eye everywhere. This is one small town where the roots go deep and sometimes tear themselves out of the grave to haunt you. It's impossible for everyone in town to not know what's happening and easier for the rumors to spread. To make things even more interesting, Dead Eyed Sadie is a harbinger of death for the Thorns. It's rumored that every Thorn who has died has seen Sadie right before death and Ava even has first-hand knowledge of that with her dad's sighting right before the wreck. Is Dead Eyed Sadie for real? It's hard to know for sure.  There's a crosshatching of supernatural and natural that is surprisingly effortless here.  

Ava is an interesting MC. High schooler. Outsider. Bloody Thorn. The death of her parents is fresh in her mind as it only happened last year. She has the added benefit of being right there in the car with them when it occurred and those seconds are etched on her mind and heart. Typically, teenage protagonists annoy me. They are self-centered and vapid. While some of the side characters (looking at you, Ford), definitely had no inkling how to think of anyone but themselves, Ava is fallible and yet still lionhearted and intelligent. She's also grieving and attempting to come to grips with what her new life holds. On the outside, she's fine but internally, she's just trying to hold it together. Anyone who has ever endured grief like this knows that every day you might wake up with a completely different emotion than you had the day before. That made Ava much more relatable with the layers of emotions that she experiences. From our external viewpoint, we still know that Ava is an incredibly unreliable narrator. She dreams things that feel real and has moments of seeing things that are there—until they aren't. She doesn't even know if she can trust herself to know the truth. It's a fantastic trick to make the reader second guess everything but Ava is so vulnerable that you want desperately to believe in her.

This is one of those mysteries that the person you least expect is always the person you should most suspect. I can't say there were any surprises in the end given that formula but I enjoyed the ride. Even though it's technically YA, Ava's maturity has been thrust upon her and made her read much older. Great characters with complicated relationships start you down this dismal path but the urban legends, dark familial history, and a splash of blood will keep you there until the end. 

Kat Ellis is a young adult author whose novels include Wicked Little Deeds/Burden Falls (August 2021), Harrow Lake (July 2020), Purge (September 2016), Breaker (May 2016), and Blackfin Sky (May 2014). She is a fan of all things horror and sci-fi, and a keen explorer of ruins, castles and cemeteries – all of which are plentiful in North Wales, where Kat lives with her husband.
You can find out more about Kat at or connect with her on social media. 
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter