Brenna Yovanoff books

I’ve read a majority of Brenna Yovanoff’s work. She has become one of my favorite authors. She is so incredible at her craft and knows exactly how to tear my heart in two then put it back together again. If you’ve never read any of her books, I highly recommend you check one out. I’ve put these in the order of how much I enjoyed them, but I loved them all! Even the ones at the bottom blew me away, so this is an arbitrary order really. If any of the descriptions stand out to you, you should immediately go find the book and immerse yourself in the story; it will not disappoint!

Paper Valentine follows our main protagonist Hannah as she investigates the murders being committed in her town. Girls her age or younger are being murdered at an increasingly rapid rate. And Hannah is starting to see and hear their ghosts. Hannah is used to being haunted as her best friend Lillian has been haunting her ever since she died. Lillian was the kind of friend who told her how to be, guided her through the social hierarchy of school, and she is as opinionated in death as she was in life. When Hannah starts to fall for bad boy Finny Boone, Lillian’s voice is there to tell her it’s a bad idea, but Hannah’s heart says otherwise. Of course, she needs to be careful considering the murders she’s digging into. She doesn’t only have herself to look after, but her younger sister Ariel as well.

I love a murder mystery, and I love a good girl/bad boy romance, so this book had me hooked. I didn’t like Lillian throughout most the book, but she really came through at the end. Hannah slowly lets go of Lillian’s expectations, or what she believed Lillian always expected of her, and learns to forgive Lillian for her weaknesses and let her go. She learns how to speak for herself and stand on her own, which is really what Lillian wanted most of all. This is a fantastic story in many aspects: the mystery, the romance, the process of grief shown by Hannah as she tried to understand Lillian’s death, and her own personal journey of learning who she is without her best friend.

Places No One Knows is a devastating and yet somehow also uplifting love story between Waverly – clinical, calculating, borderline sociopathic – and Marshall – empathetic, depressed, self-destructive. Marshall has been in love with Waverly, but she’s hardly ever seen him as anything other than another face in class. He was fine with looking at her from a distance – that is, until she does see him. The only problem, they are only together in the dark of night. Waverly is an insomniac, and when she tries a relaxation technique one night – lighting a candle (which she chose because the scent reminded her of Marshall) and counting backwards until she falls asleep. When she does this, instead of dreaming quietly in her bed, she finds herself transported to wherever Marshall is. Waverly doesn’t understand how this can be possible, but she doesn’t care because she finds she is someone else when she is around Marshall. She can speak her mind and not hide the weird, dark bits of her personality like she does with her best friend Maribeth, who has to remind her when to smile and constantly reminds her how robotic and unusual she is. And for Marshall, Waverly’s nightly visits are the only bright spots in his life. But is a secret love only shown in the shadows enough?

I didn’t completely relate to Waverly personality wise, but I did relate to her aching loneliness and feeling of being alienated from everything around her. Also her struggle with communication. I know I’m not the best communicator, but I still wanted to scream at her JUST TELL THEM HOW YOU REALLY FEEL! But I know it’s not that easy, and if she did, there wouldn’t be a story would there? She slowly begins to see that the normalcy she clung to desperately with Maribeth guiding her through school clubs and committees isn’t what she truly wants. As she gets closer to Marshall and becomes friends with free-spirited, force of nature Autumn, she gets a taste of what she’s been missing, but she’s too afraid to let down her armor and be herself. Autumn and Marshall aren’t afraid to speak their minds, open themselves emotionally, be who they are unapologetically whereas she has closed herself off and shoved down all emotion for the majority of her life. It takes a lot of energy and trust to open yourself up after locking yourself away. But they accept her as she is, which she’s never experienced before. Could she really go back to her “perfect life” facade? A life that is becoming nothing but infuriating filled with people who are fake and spiteful and seemingly one-dimensional. She’s got a new, happy life within reach. She just has to take the leap.

The Replacement is set in a town where babies and children could disappear and be replaced with something inhuman. The switchlings don’t usually last long, as they aren’t made to live above ground. Mackie is an anomaly. He was left in place of a human baby sixteen years ago, and he is still walking around amongst the humans. His sister Emma and his best friend Roswell accept and love him just as he is, but he is constantly reminded of the ways he doesn’t belong. He tries desperately to be normal and disappear into the crowd. But then a little girl from town is taken and her sister starts asking Mackie questions he isn’t ready to face. The town has always ignored the disappearances and the presence of the faeries? goblins? demons? that take them. They keep the town prosperous, and there is always a price to pay for comfort. Mackie just wants to ignore the darkness beneath the normalcy like everybody else, but faced with Tate’s determination, his resolve crumbles. And when he finds out what really happens to the missing children, he can’t stand by and do nothing.

The most beautiful thing about this story is the triumph of love. The love of family, blood or chosen, with Emma accepting Mackie completely as her true brother, Roswell standing by Mackie’s side no matter what, anytime he needs him, Tate’s fierce love for her little sister and her determination to save and protect her. The story evokes the determination it takes to put an end to toxic generational cycles. The mindset of “It ends with us” takes a lot to actually follow through and accomplish, but the struggle is necessary in order to make things better for those who come after us.

Fiendish is full of magic, both dark and beautiful. Clementine was walled up in the cellar for ten years, kept alive by magic for her own protection. When she was young, dangerous and inexplicable things happened in her town. The townsfolk blamed the magic users and attacked them, burning down their homes. When Clementine was locked away, the weird events stopped, and the townsfolk left the “fiendish people” as they called them alone. That is, until Clementine is found and set free by a boy named Fisher who turns out to be one of the “fiendish.” The longer Clementine is free, the strange events from the past begin again. Can all the “fiendish” kids work together to understand what happened all those years ago and keep it from happening again?

This story is a mix of magic, romance, political unrest, and the ultimate need to come together as a community. It’s all about connection, the way we are all connected, even if you feel a wide separation between you. We all need each other, and we can accomplish so much more together than we can alone.

The Space Between follows Daphne, daughter of Lucifer and Lilith, as she travels to earth to find her missing brother, Obie. Her brother worked at saving humans down on Earth. The last conversation she has with him is he tells her he is running away to Earth because he is in love. But when he disappears from his life on Earth as well, she travels there herself to search for him despite the dangers of Azrael who hunts the demons who stay too long on Earth. She finds the last human Obie saved, Truman, in the hopes he might know anything about Obie’s whereabouts. But Truman is still troubled and self-destructive. Daphne needs his help and Truman needs someone to save him from himself, so she drags him along with her as she searches for her brother.

This is, I think, the darkest of Yovanoff’s books. It’s gothic and heartbreaking and intense. It’s about the distances you’ll go for those you love and how people aren’t always the way they seem just from looking at their outside shell. It’s about breaking through expectations, other people’s or even your own, to be who you truly are.

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