Title: The Sham
Author: Ellen Allen
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: August 30th 2014
Finished reading: October 29th 2014
Pages: 248
Rating 3,5

“Fifty-three minutes in and my list was pretty full in all of the ways that Jack wasn’t normal, the ways he was special, so very bloody different from everyone else. I had to admit it – despite my fierce reservations – I liked him all the more for it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly given to me by the author through Ethereal Book Reviews in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
(Guest Reviewer Program) ***


The Sham has definitely surprised me. What I suspected to be another contemporary romance novel turned out to be a proper YA mystery/thriller story with quite a shocking opening scene. Sure, the relationship between Emily and Jack plays an important role, but the emphasis is laid on the disappearance and murder of various teenage girls. We get to know the main characters of Ellen Allen‘s novel in the opening scene that gives us a glimpse of what will happen in the future. And things sure are not all rosy in a small town called the Sham, as a girl suddenly disappears… And people think the mysterious Jack is the killer. Unfortunately I couldn’t really warm up to the characters, and the whole mystery around Jack sometimes felt a bit forced. But that might just be me, because I’ve seen that most people do seem to appreciate the characters. All in all it is an interesting murder/mystery story with a shocking ending and refreshing after reading one too many contemporary romance YA novels.


When Emily met her boyfriend Jack six months ago, it wasn’t exactly under normal circumstances. He ‘saved’ her from a group of four horrible teenage girls, typical bullies who tried to harass a little boy and kill a bird as well. Emily is fascinated by Jack from the start and realizes he is not exactly what you call normal. When one of the girls disappears, the police suspect Jack of having something to do with it. He seems like a ghost without a past and his body is failing him… And while Emily thinks he didn’t do it, the police do, and he is under suspicion of murder as soon as the body of the girl shows up.

Strange signs in a dialect that hasn’t been spoken show up at the scene, and when a second girl of the group disappears things get complicated. Emily wants to help Jack prove his innocence and find out who murdered her classmates, but Jack doesn’t seem to have a history. His condition is also getting worse, and Emily is preocupied… As is the rest of the town because they think she might be next. Will they find out on time who is really behind the murders? And do they discover who Jack really is?


This is not the typical YA read and definitely not suited for the younger readers. I think that is part of the charm; The Sham is different from the typical YA reads. You can say it is a proper mystery/thriller novel with some very shocking scenes, but since I like that genre I had no problems reading this novel. I wasn’t really attached to the characters and the mystery around Jack seems forced at some points, but I liked the various plot twists and ending. Recommended to those who enjoy a good mystery story and are not offended by shocking scenes and strong language.