Trampled Crown

Trampled Crown by Kirby Kellogg

Valerie Barnes is tired. Tired of wrangling snarky teens through their math lessons, tired of helicopter moms with no respect and even less kindness, and – most importantly – tired of hearing about Canary Lane High’s upcoming homecoming dance. She’s been planning it for months and promises, if only to herself, to give the kids a night they’ll never forget.

But when strange things start happening and people’s lives are threatened in the days before the dance, that promise becomes more ominous than ever. Even the administration is getting antsy, and fingers are pointing to Valerie. With time running out and stakes getting higher, it’s up to Valerie to keep her students safe, clear her name, and figure out who’s been threatening all of their lives.

The IndieMuse Review

In the 10th book in Unnerving’s prolific Rewind or Die series, Kirby Kellogg takes us back to the 1990s with a story of a high school homecoming that the students of Canary Lane High School won’t soon forget.

Valerie is a math teacher at the high school, well-liked by her students and respected by her fellow teachers. When the school principal gives her the unenviable task of organizing this year’s homecoming dance, she’s reluctant at first. Valerie takes the job in the hopes of at least delivering a dance to make her school proud.

It seems not everyone at Canary Lane High School feels the same way. It starts with vandalism in the school, gory warnings left in lockers, and soon escalates to bloody notes left at teachers’ homes. The message is clear. Somebody does not want the dance to go ahead as planned and they seem willing to go to deadly lengths to get their way.

I found a lot to like with Trampled Crown and, as I’ve found with a lot of the Rewind or Die series to date. It was a fun, nostalgia-filled read. This book in particular being set in a high school in the 90s, the same period I went to high school myself, struck a chord with me.

What the book does exceedingly well is set up intriguing questions and mysteries that keep you engaged. What caused Valerie’s accident? What secret is Elizabeth hiding? Why is the Principal so fixated on this year’s dance? There are a lot of questions raised and answers come gradually, while always raising more questions until the big final act. It is a very well-paced book that always had enough intrigue to keep me hooked from start to finish.

It is a shame then, that it doesn’t all tie together quite as neatly as it should. Without spoiling the ending, some of the reveals and sub-plots feel a little unnecessary to the story and the actions of some characters, particularly in retrospect, don’t make a great deal of sense. The big reveal at the end of the book raises more questions about the motivations of the characters and the logic of their plan than it answers. As intriguing as the set up is, it doesn’t quite deliver on its early promise.

Trampled Crown is an enjoyable, albeit flawed book. It has a great premise and is paced so as to keep you in suspense until the final page, but is ultimately let down somewhat by muddled character motivations and confusing reveals. Rewind or Die fans will no doubt enjoy this one, but it may ultimately frustrate as much as entertain.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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