Eighteen-year-old Sunny Lee had it all—she was a Kpop star on the rise alongside her two best friends Candie and Mina—until a shocking scandal ended it all. Now she spends her time longing for a return to what once was. When she finds out Candie is attending a new competitive Kpop workshop in her hometown, Sunny decides to audition and join her, hoping to finally confront what happened between them and also figure out what actually happened the night that Mina jumped to her death.
But things just get more confusing when Sunny arrives at the workshop. She doesn’t find the answers she’s looking for, but she does find herself haunted by ghostly visions while strange “accidents” start happening to her fellow competitors. As weird things keep happening, Sunny starts to wonder if Candie—and her otherworldly secrets—are behind everything.
Utilizing dual timelines like a pro, Cheng creates an atmosphere of elevated mystery as the reader follows Sunny’s journey to find out the truth. The shared history between Candie and Sunny is slowly revealed to the reader as we also watch them reconnect (poorly) in the present timeline, providing an intriguing contrast that keeps us guessing. In addition, being able to witness the development of their relationship with each other as well as with Mina causes an even deeper stab to the heart with each turn of the page.
Despite the thrills and chills experienced as Sunny dives deeper into the workshop, Cheng is also able to create a bit of a romantic atmosphere. By no means would I classify this story as a romance (at least not in its entirety), but something about the way the story was told and the way that Sunny’s relationships developed in both the past and the present spoke of romance to me.
And that ending was everything I could have hoped for! I spent a majority of the book completely entranced and confused (in the best way) and the climax really brought the story together and explained everything well. Not only did all the plot lines presented in this book get neatly wrapped up, but Cheng also left the door open for more and I, for one, hope that there will be at least one more book set in this world! (And since Goodreads lists this book as the first in a series, I think I’m gonna get my wish!)
GORGEOUS GRUESOME FACES by debut author Linda Cheng is stunning sapphic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It’s available now and you can grab a copy here.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."