Book Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Blazer + Bray (An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Publication date: September 12, 2012

Synopsis, Courtesy of

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.
But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

About the Author, in Her Own Words:

Singer ~ Writer ~ Clown

I write. Scary stuff, mostly. My YA horror/paranormal POSSESS debuted with Balzer and Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. My second novel, TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on an island with a serial killer – will be released September 18, 2012, also from Balzer and Bray.

I’m a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and I currently sing with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. I’m a founding member of vlog group theYARebels where I can be seen as “Monday” and an active member of both The Enchanted Inkpot, a group blog of YA and middle grade fantasy writers, and The Apocalypsies, a group blog of 2012 children’s book debuts.

Find Gretchen (and Ten) Online:

Website | Twitter | Facebook |Goodreads |Amazon.comBarnes & Noble

Read The Underground Treehouse’s Interview with Gretchen McNeil!


A good book leaves its readers feeling satisfied. A great book leaves them ravenous. As a long-time fan of horror, I was hooked on Ten the moment I saw the tagline: Ten kids. Three days. One killer. The plot itself is simple: ten high school students, invited to a party on an isolated island, arrive and discover that they cannot leave.

This is a very general sense of the plot, but I am reluctant to reveal even that much, for fear of ruining the discovery process for the reader–and that process is too engrossing to steal.

McNeil combines the shadowy touches of classic horror with a brilliantly crafted mystery that will keep you shifting the pieces until the last reveal. She even weaves in a romance that is not only believable, but also manages to avoid feeling out of place in the midst of such dark subject matter. Until now, I thought that horror and romance were the only two genres that could never effectively co-exist in the same book. In McNeil’s hands, however, they not only play nicely, but walk hand -in –severed- hand like they were made for each other.

McNeil has enough confidence in her story to take time in building  the atmosphere. She makes the process of settling into the novel enjoyable and cozy. Elements of the Gothic tradition—from the isolated setting, to the barrage of awful weather, to the lingering presence of the past reaching its cold hands into the present– are beautifully woven in. The shadowy aesthetic of Dracula’s castle and Jane Eyre’s Thornfield Hall is infused into a modern YA narrative like the quite string section that underpins a powerful symphony.

McNeil makes us so comfortable in her setting that the first true “ horror” moment emerges almost out of nowhere in truly spectacular fashion. One quick point that I need to make about this moment for my fellow horror fans: the first “big” scare is not a jump scare. It’s not a joke, or a trick, or “just the cat.” It’s the genuine article—and from there, as they say, “shit gets real.” I won’t spoil the specifics for you, but when I read the moment in question I remember thinking, “ horror in YA is back, and its name is Gretchen McNeil.”

Ten by Gretchen McNeil was published on September 18th, 2012. Just in time for you to spend Halloween at White Rock House, if you’re so inclined. Settle in and enjoy your stay. Just remember that your housemates might not be what they seem.

Don’t just take my word for it. Check out these further choruses of praise for Ten:

“TEN is a real page turner! Gretchen McNeil knows how to plot a thriller: Her setup is flawless and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat.” – Christopher Pike, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the THIRST series and REMEMBER ME

“Gretchen McNeil’s TEN is my new number one! I jumped at every creaking floorboard in my house and on the page. This is sure to be a teen thriller classic!” – Nancy Holder, Bram Stoker Award winning author of THE SCREAMING SEASON

“You want to read this book. McNeil incorporates all the thrills and chills of a horror movie into this fast-paced, gripping tale. With its quippy dialogue, it’s like reading Scream. This reviewer got the willies while reading Ten on a sunny afternoon.” – Top Pick in Romantic Times, September 2012

“A scary gorefest of murder and mayhem, not for the faint of heart […] a breathless read.” – Kirkus

“Agatha Christie meets Gossip Girl […] in McNeil’s (Possess) throwback to old-school thrillers […] has all the hallmarks of a traditional slasher flick, including imprudent sex, gory slayings, and dramatic revelations.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Read The Underground Treehouse’s Interview with Gretchen McNeil!

Website | Twitter | Facebook |Goodreads |Amazon.comBarnes & Noble


2 responses to “Book Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

  1. Pingback: Interview: Gretchen McNeil Talks “Ten,” Young Adult Horror, and Her Next Book! | The Underground Treehouse·

  2. This was a really good Halloween read for me! I had a lot of fun reading it. It kind of reminded me of the 90s slasher films and a little bit of my Fear Street days!

Join the Conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s