Come Out, Come Out, Whatever You Are / Kathryn Foxfield / Book Review

The Umber Gorge caverns might be dark and dangerous--and particularly unstable--but none of that scares Lex Hazleton. She's here for the prize money, after all. All she has to do is spend the night in the caves without bailing, and she'll get a share of the money. And if she can scare off all her fellow contestants on It's Behind You? Well, that's just more money for her, right?

But a night spent in a haunted cave doesn't sound bad from the outside. From the inside, it's a different story, and as the production crew ramps up the scares, these contestants start to think it's not just them (and Cameraman Carl) in these haunted caverns... And there might not be  way out after all. 


This book was exactly what I thought it would be, to be honest. And my hopes were not high going in. Was it bad? Not exactly. But it wasn’t particularly good, either. It had more potential than execution. 


  • Little Preamble: Thrillers should be quick, full of sharp turns and unexpected twists. One of the worst sins a thriller writer can commit is making the story too slow. The set up can take too long, diminishing the overall effect – one of my biggest problems, for example, with Goldie Moldavsky's Lord of the Fly Fest. In this book, however, we jump right into the action, and I think that's a good thing. There isn't a lot of set up, but there doesn’t really need to be. We just jump into it!
  • Interview Snippets: One of my favorite things about this book was the interview snippets woven throughout it. Because we don’t get a lot of preamble, we don’t know much about the other characters aside from Lex, our main character, to begin with. By slowly revealing their acceptance interviews, we get a sense of who they are, and we also get a sense of the strings that are being pulled behind the scenes. This sets up some great expectations and character twists as these facts are slowly revealed. 
  • Blackmail: Most of the twists that happened in this book I saw coming from while off. Which is unfortunate. But there was one twist I didn’t see coming. One of the interview snippets revealed a crucial piece of information, and that piece of information really upped the tension: there’s blackmail at play. The outer persona of both characters involved up until that point really concealed the truth, so I had no idea. I loved that! I love being surprised in a thriller.


  • Annoying MC: I think that Lex was meant to be annoying, but she wasn’t meant to be annoying to the readers. She was antagonistic, and she did a lot of provoking her fellow cast members. However, I found her excruciatingly annoying to read about as well. Her personality is glaringly annoying, and it felt melodramatic and over-written. It was hyperbolic to an extreme, and I didn’t like it. I really couldn’t figure out a motive for her to be on the show, annoying the others. Her personality wasn’t fun. It was just irritating.
  • No Character Development: Five characters really isn’t too many for a closed room type of story, but here this small cast of characters felt way too big because none of them made any sort of lasting impression. They were archetypes, and they didn’t extend beyond the archetypes as the story progress. At best, they were cardboard cut-outs of characters, and they didn’t change whatsoever. 
  • She's Dead!: People die left and right in this book, and nobody tries to help them. Everyone just assumes that it is too late already, I guess? I could see that being the case if, you know, somebody’s head came off. But that wasn’t the case, and nobody even tried a little bit of CPR. It’s a bit of a trope, and it’s a terrible one. Come on, guys! Help a dead girl out.



Fans of Rin Chupeco's The Sacrifice will enjoy this new television-show-gone-wrong story. Those who enjoyed Kate A. Boorman's Into the Sublime will appreciate this new spooky cave setting. 


Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date: November 29, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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