Mostly fascinated by the Hell House in Small Town Sinners

I took a chance with Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker. I don’t read a lot of YA and I read zilch about religion. So this story about a small town girl questioning God and the Church is really out of my reading realm. But I was pleasantly surprised.

What really drew me to the book was the idea of Hell Houses. They’re like haunted houses but some places (Bible-belt American states) reenact different sins to literally scare the Jesus back into teenagers. In Small Town Sinners, the main character, Lacey Anne Byers, gets to play Abortion Girl. Other kids land roles in scenes of gay marriage, drunk driving, cyberporn and suicide. And it’s very, very gruesome. Did I mention that Hell Houses are real? Walker wrote a whole article about them for Elle Girl magazine.

I vote that they add bullying to Hell Houses if they really are successful.


But good-girl-Pastor’s-daughter Lacey Byers starts to question her beliefs when something big happens. And the pretty-boy new kid, Ty, isn’t helping either. She falls head-over-heels for Ty instantly but the romance bits are clumsy, boring and unconvincing – there’s just no spark. I’m not sure why Lacey likes Ty so much except that he’s hot. Oh, to be young again. And I have no idea why Ty likes Lacey. Absolutely none. She’s really quite boring and they seem to have nothing in common.

In short, read Small Town Sinners for the sins and forgive it for its unconvincing romance.

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9 thoughts on “Mostly fascinated by the Hell House in Small Town Sinners

  1. Ooh, I remember seeing this come across my radar a while back… meant to check it out and totally forgot!

    Great review! The premise is interesting.. and I find romance storylines to be hit or miss with a lot of books.. either really well done, or really contrived…

    • I found it on sale on Kindle and remembered reading about it on a YA book blog… somewhere 🙂

      In Walker’s defence, high romance is often clumsy. Romance is hard to pull off in books – and even harder to pull off in real life! Which reminds me… Valentine’s Day is around the corner and I still don’t know what to get my bf.

  2. Sounds like an interesting read Farah. I think I remember hearing about Hell Houses on some crime TV show where a person is actually murdered at the house but everyone just thinks it’s part of the show. It was really creepy and so is the whole idea of Hell Houses – although I’m not a Christian it seems like they are the antithesis of what Christianity should be about!

    • Hi Jessica! I horrified to find out that Hell Houses were real! I’ve been to a few Catholic church masses and they always preaching about forgiveness and love. Hell House just seems so full of hate. I get that it’s a scare tactic though… although most studies say scare tactics don’t work. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. I’m hoping to read this book. I’m always a fan of religion showing up one way or another in YA fiction, especially when the book isn’t necessarily promoting one, simply because I think it’s something a lot of teen struggle with.

    • HI Melanie! I think you’ll like this one. Lacey really starts to question her religion and even the notion of questioning religion. Religion aside, it’s also difficult to discover that you have a different opinion from everyone around you – especially if you’re a teen. This book addresses those issues (namely through Ty) pretty well.

  4. Pingback: Journalists & Writers | Broken Penguins

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