School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—With the tone and pacing of free verse poetry counterbalanced by the taut suspense of a mysterious disappearance, this debut effort transports readers back to 1965 through the voice of 15-year-old Caroline. In the last days of summer, Caroline’s sister Jessica sneaks out of the house to see her boyfriend and disappears. As the police force’s search for her sister stalls, the protagonist begins to investigate on her own with the assistance of Jessica’s boyfriend. As her parents try to drown their grief in alcohol and angry accusations, Caroline reaches out to a world of hippies, druggies, drop-outs, and drifters in hopes of finding Jessica alive. Rather than finding her sister, she discovers that another missing girl has connections to Jessica and her friends. Can Caroline figure out who she can trust before she becomes the next victim of a serial killer? The brisk tempo and vividly described setting of this story will grab teen’s attention from the opening pages. Caroline’s viewpoint is at the heart of this novel, and Ross succeeds brilliantly in conveying the confusion, passion, trepidation, fearlessness, and terror that every 15-year-old can relate to. Fans of Lois Duncan will appreciate the gentle spine tingles offered here. VERDICT The power and beauty of the prose make this novel a standout that will be a positive addition to junior high and high school fiction collections.—Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, Blinn Junior College, Brenham, TX

Half in Love With Death is a suspenseful psychological thriller and a mesmerizing coming of age story. I raced to find out what happened, yet longed to linger with this rich cast of characters and Emily Ross’s stylish prose. This haunting story of a teen girl’s search for her missing sister, served up with plenty of plot twists, will excite YA mystery fans.” — Diana Renn, author of Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero and Blue Voyage

“A story about lost sisters, secrets, and lies, Half in Love with Death is as dreamy and dark as the beautiful boy at the center of its twisty mystery. To read it is to feel an electric chill in the hot-baked desert heat of the summer.” — Kate Racculia, author of Bellweather Rhapsody

“Falling in love with a ‘bad boy’ has a price — in Half in Love With Death, sisters Caroline and Jess might pay with more than their broken hearts. Mixing mystery and the laws of attraction into a heady brew, author Emily Ross unfolds a family collapsing as you race to the last page of this thriller.” — Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage

YA Interrobang

“In her stunning debut, Emily Ross sweeps the 1960s and everything that came with it, exploring the turbulent era and domestic abuse.” Full review here.


Half in Love with Death captivated me beyond the last page, leaving me with so many thoughts and praises for this fantastic story … .A haunting novel with elements of mystery and romance. The characters are extremely well-developed, which makes the mystery even more difficult to solve … .Chilling and enthralling. Full review here.


Half in Love with Death sneaks up on you… it pulls you in with its beautiful prose, only to set you up for a thriller so true to life it will make you question how well you truly know your neighbors.  Full review here.

Night Owl Reviews – Top Pick

This story is so empowering! The characters were just amazing. They leap off the page, grab you and pull you within the pages. Half In Love With Death is a book that will stick with you for some time. More here.

Melissa A. Bartell for Bibliotica

My favorite part of this novel wasn’t a scene or a line of dialogue, though. It was that the protagonist, Caroline, essentially saves herself, something we don’t see enough of in any genre of writing. – See more here.

Half in Love with Death pits a dangerous boy charmer against the unwavering strength of Ross’ young protagonist, the heartrending Caroline, whose voice is rich with lyricism, fear, smarts, innocence, and rebellion. We cannot help but follow Caroline’s footsteps as she negotiates the confusing maze of love, trust, friendship, and family that mark her troubled passage into adulthood—all set at the cusp of the sexual revolution in a desert landscape that keeps this page turner steaming. You will fall in love with this book at the same time as you crush its covers to find out how it ends.” — Michelle Hoover, author of The Quickening and Bottomland

At once a coming of age novel and an edge-of-your-seat thriller, Emily Ross’s Half in Love with Death explores the dark side of the hippie era through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Caroline, whose sister Jess goes missing when the novel opens. Frustrated by the inept adults around her, Caroline gathers clues to her sister’s whereabouts even as she falls for Jess’s charismatic boyfriend, Tony. I wanted to steam through the book’s final chapters to find out what happened, but made myself slow down so as not to miss out on Caroline’s keen observations, the subtle beauty of her voice. This is a haunting, impressive debut that marks the launch of a major new talent. — Lisa Borders, author of The FiftyFirst State