BOOKS Killer endings

Love an edge-of-your-seat read? Tracy Darnton, author of Ready or Not, selects her favourite recent YA thrillers for a killer ending… 

Are you the kind of reader who looks at the ending before you’re even out of the bookshop? Or are you like me and would never dream of doing such a thing?


Working out the ending is my favourite part of writing my books. A good twist is all about foreshadowing so that everything clicks into place at the end, like a switch has been flicked to see things that were always there in a whole new light. As a reader, I want an ending I didn’t see coming but could have. Take a look at my selection of recent YA thrillers. I’ve avoided spoilers. You’ll just have to take it from me that the ending’s worth the wait. And no sneaking a look at the last page!


Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis


Ava Thorn, troubled by nightmares of spooky Dead-Eyed Sadie after the death of her parents in a car accident, moves out of the Thorn family mansion to live with her uncle and his wife. To make matters worse, the new residents are the very ones she blames for the accident. So, when their daughter Freya is murdered, Ava is a prime suspect. A masterclass in suspense, this small-town drama has a brilliantly exciting, twisty ending.


Dead Lucky by Andreina Cordani


A bunch of school friends become famous Vloggers – the ‘lucky’ ones, whose every emotion and endorsement is shared with millions. Except that not everyone from their past is thrilled at their success, and that kind of fame has its costs and secrets. When the outrageous Xav is murdered live on camera, who did it and who could be next? Your suspicions chop and change across the excellent cast of characters in a lively, page-turning, very modern whodunnit.

Cover of Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis


Win Lose Kill Die by Cynthia Murphy


Secluded school setting? Tick. Head boy and girl rivalries? Tick. Mysterious cult? Tick. Securing a place at Morton Academy and access to the wealthy sponsors of the Society of Jewel and Bone is a ticket to a successful life. When there’s so much at stake, are the accidental deaths of students way more sinister? Who can any of them, or the reader, trust?



I Know You Did It by Sue Wallman


Sue’s books are brilliant at capturing contemporary school life and teens, and this is my favourite one of hers so far. Ruby caused a toddler’s death in a playground incident when she was very young. When she starts a new school, she is quickly under suspicion for the bad things happening to fellow students. So many ways to have a nasty accident in the average school – don’t train in the gym on your own and watch out in the library. Who’s really doing it and is she in danger herself? Oodles of clues and red herrings and a cracking ending.


So what are your favourites?


*Header: Cover of I Know You Did It by Sue Wallman


Tracy Darnton loves to write YA thrillers with twisty endings. She shares her passion for YA as a mentor and creative writing tutor. She’s delivered talks and workshops in schools and with adult learners, including at YALC, Bath Children’s Lit Fest, bookshops, library events, and SCBWI-BI's conference in Manchester. She has an MA with Distinction in Writing for Young People and has been an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at BSU. She’s based near Bath.

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