Review By Gabrielle

The Return of Ellie Black is an addictive thriller that will have you at the edge of your seat.

Favourite Quote:

“I don’t think I’ve told you much about myself. What motivates me. What drives my sense of justice. My sister went missing and was murdered when I was in high school. I guess you could call that my cop origin story.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

It’s been twenty years since Detective Chelsey Calhoun’s sister vanished when they were teenagers, and ever since she’s been searching: for signs, for closure, for other missing girls. But happy endings are rare in Chelsey’s line of work.

Then a glimmer: local teenager Ellie Black, who disappeared without a trace two years earlier, has been found alive in the woods of Washington State.

But something is not right with Ellie. She won’t say where she’s been, or who she’s protecting, and it’s up to Chelsey to find the answers. She needs to get to the bottom of what happened to Ellie: for herself, and for the memory of her sister, but mostly for the next girl who could be taken—and who, unlike Ellie, might never return.

Golly gee, willikers, this is a good one, folks. Seriously great. There are so many twists and turns that I could not put this book down. I was hooked right from the get-go, and it didn’t let me go until the last page. Is there anything better for a bookworm than that feeling of being totally sucked into a book? I don’t believe there is.

I will say this one is dark. If you can’t handle bad things happening to kids, don’t pick this one up. Our MC Chelsey is all about finding missing girls. It’s more than just a job to her; it’s her life mission. After her sister went missing when she was a teenager, finding missing girls has become an obsession. While it’s an honourable obsession, it’s not necessarily a healthy one. Chelsey is complicated and smart. I really liked how imperfect her character was. How her dedication, while noble, was also personally harmful. Emiko is examining the nature of obsession and questioning where the line that turns it toxic is.

Chelsey gets the chance of a lifetime when Ellie Black reappears after being missing for two years. Where has she been? How did she escape? Chelsey finally has a chance to solve the mystery and go after the responsible. Except Ellie doesn’t seem to want to participate. Is she just traumatized? Or is she hiding something?

The book is told in alternating chapters from Chelsey and Ellie’s perspectives, so readers piece together the story in small chunks, feeling absolutely everything along the way. There is a visceral frustration that Chelsey and the reader feel over resolving the case, which effectively ramps up the tension. 

I can’t say much about the ending without giving too much away, but I will say that there is a shocking twist that had me gasping out loud. It’s important for me to note that this is Emiko’s first adult thriller. She has written other books but hasn’t done this before. I can say with confidence that you wouldn’t know it. This book is so masterfully constructed that I was dumbfounded. 

Emiko has created a page-turner thriller with The Return of Ellie Black that has made me a fan of her work. Please write more thrillers, Emiko!

Thank you, Simon & Schuster, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.