This Book Kills

There’s a murderer on the loose in an elite boarding school… But who is going to be next? This Book Kills is the YA thriller of 2023, perfect for fans of Holly Jackson and Karen McManus.

“I’ll make it clear from the start: I did not kill Hugh Henry Van Boren.
I didn’t even help. Well, not intentionally.”

When Hugh Henry Van Boren, one of the most popular and richest kids in Jess Choudhary’s school, is found dead, the student body is left reeling and wondering who the murderer could be… Jess, a student under strict instructions to keep her record clean or risk losing her scholarship, finds herself at the centre of the investigation when it’s revealed that Hugh died in the exact same way as a character in a short story she wrote.

And then Jess receives an anonymous text thanking her for the inspiration.

With time running out, Jess knows if she doesn’t solve this mystery she’ll finally have something in common with Hugh Henry.

She’ll be dead too.

Usborne

This Book Kills is a debut UKYA and bound to be one of the most gripping crime thrillers of 2023. I had the opportunity to ask the author, Ravena Guron, a few questions!

When you thought of a story inspiring a murder, did the murder come to you first or the school setting?

The school setting came first – I wanted to write a book set in a confined space, and the boarding school surroundings were perfect for that. The boarding school also fit in well with the themes of privilege and confidence that I wanted to explore in the book. The set-up for the murder, with the main character, Jess, writing a short story that is brought to life by the killer, came quite quickly after that. Inspiration was sparked by the school setting, because I started thinking about the classes Jess might be having, and how it would be quite easy for her to be assigned a short story to write… And what might happen if that piece of homework took a deadlier turn…

Were you a big writer at school?

I was! I was a massive bookworm, and that translated into wanting to write my own stories. I was very lucky to be taught by some really encouraging English teachers, who told me about short story competitions I could enter. As well as that, I also took part in First Story, which is a charity initiative that brings published authors into schools to work with teenagers from underrepresented communities. It was an incredible opportunity that I’m really grateful for and sparked lots of creativity in me.

Did you do any research into real boarding schools?

Yes! I wanted Heybuckle, the boarding school in This Book Kills, to feel really authentic. Luckily, I had a few friends who had gone to boarding school, or worked in a boarding school, and were willing to let me pick their brains. There were some elements where I knew I would need to use some creative license in order to make the story work, but I wanted things like the timetable to feel realistic, or what the students might be served for dinner… Just day-to-day aspects to make it feel like an actual school.

What kind of events would you like to do for the book (dream event and realistic, if they differ)?

I’d love to go to book festivals – like Edinburgh International Book Festival, and Hay Festival – they always look so incredible! And I went to YALC last year for the first time and had the most amazing day meeting other YA authors and readers – it would be an absolute dream to do a panel. I’d also love to do events at bookshops and libraries all around the country – explore different areas and meet readers all over. I’d love to do all the events!

Have you had much feedback from young readers?

Not yet, but now that I’m published I’m so incredibly excited for This Book Kills to find its way to teenagers!

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I’ve just finished reading Daughter of Darkness by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr, which is a YA fantasy – it’s inspired by Greek mythology, and it’s super original. I’d recommend it to readers looking for a fast-paced and twisty read.

Can we expect more murders from you?

Yes you can! I’m currently working on my second book – I can’t say too much about it, but there’s murder galore and I’ve had so much fun writing in all the twists…

This Book Kills is out now in the UK from Usborne Books

By Caroline Fielding on January 11, 2023 · Posted in BAME, Interviews, Reflecting Realities, YA

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