Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.
Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.
Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.
Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…
Worldbuilding: The woods setting was nice and properly freaky, as all camping/outdoors settings are imo, lol. The very idea of going out into the woods and something going wrong is one of my top freak-out scenarios, probably right after the no-electricity one – funny how this setting combines both, lol.
Characters: Sera was a likable character. Admittedly, I liked her more when interacting with Lucas but not obsessively thinking about her mother’s love life. But anyway, Sera was a nice and caring MC, and I was very invested in her story.
Other characters were interesting too, Lucas most of all, but I also really enjoyed the rest of the group. I loved how Natalie Richards played with the ambiguity of labeling and judging people and taking them for what they’re not, and she had her characters take turns to go through this process, making the reader wonder and suspect each one in turn. Really well done.
Plot: The thriller arc was properly freaky and full of tension. Imminent death was always one step away, or it felt that way, and I loved the whole ride. There were also strong romantic elements, and I enjoyed the angsty teen romance arc too. There was also a bit of a mystery angle, with Sera and Lucas teaming up trying to figure out who the psycho was. Bonus points for the Natalie Richards’s choice of the psycho, btw. Overall, the story was very tense, well-paced, and entirely captivating and exciting.
Writing: First person, present tense narrative.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb – impulsive buy material for my thriller cravings.
I really enjoyed One Was Lost; its mix of thriller and angsty teen romance was a very good combo and the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife. For me personally it would have been a 5 butterflies read if Sera would have been less obsessed with her mother’s doomy love life, bringing up a fear that I didn’t really find that well-founded or traumatizing as to have such an effect tbh. But it’s a personal thing, and some love emphasis on how traumatized a character is-regardless of the trauma itself-, so it could be a plus.
I recommend One Was Lost to fans of spooky contemporary YA reads, to anti-fans of camping like myself lol, and fans of teen romantic elements in adventurous reads.