Loved, nurtured and protected—as well as intelligent, impetuous, and nosy as hell, Mickie Lambert is the kind of brave and carefree Black girl we don't often see on the page or screen. She's the Black girl we want to see living her best life in a romcom by Issa Rae ... There's a cognitive dissonance to the experience of reading These Toxic Things. I know it's a thriller, so bad things will happen, but I also wanted/felt that I needed Mickie to stay that boldly carefree girl. She doesn't. And I wanted her many gifts to shield her from harm. They can't. But she does get to be the cool girl, and the 'final girl' and her own unique creation. It's an intriguing, riveting pleasure to watch the action unfold and see how the pieces fit together.
... clever ... Expertly plotted with intriguing characters ... Howzell Hall skillfully delivers an original plot with numerous surprising twists and realistic characters. Mickie’s close relationship with her loving parents contrasts with Nadia’s complicated life. She persuasively weaves in issues such as development, family dynamics and how culture is shaped by people and things, and how we become attached to objects, all while keeping the suspense churning.
Rachel Howzell Hall infuses her characters with life. They feel like real people with real feelings leading real lives, along with their memories and the memorabilia that enrich them. As the story unfolds, suspense takes over --- and with plenty of clues and red herrings, These Toxic Things is a compelling read, as well as a rich addition to the author’s impressive body of work.
Just as she did last year with And Now She’s Gone, Rachel Howzell Hall has again pulled me out of a reading slump with her newest thriller, These Toxic Things. Fans of Hall’s work will once more be treated to a clever, unique mystery full of characters that are truly original ... I have tried for days to come up with exactly the right adjective for Hall’s incredible writing in These Toxic Things, but I have finally decided that there is no single word to encompass how alive her characters always feel. I came away feeling like I knew these people and feeling like I was actually there with Mickie when all of this went down. Hall’s style and pacing is second to none, and I am already excited about whatever she does next.
Hall’s latest is a tech-savvy juggernaut of fear and paranoia, rendered quirky and original by the colloquial voice of its millennial protagonist. Some good advice before reading: Make sure the doors are locked.
... inventive ... Michaela’s narration is absorbing as she navigates Nadia’s mysteries and faces secrets buried in her own unraveling past. Hall offers an intriguing serial-murder twist and an evocative tribute to one of L.A.’s historically Black neighborhoods.
... exceptional ... This cleverly plotted, surprise-filled novel offers well-drawn and original characters, lively dialogue, and a refreshing take on the serial killer theme. Hall continues to impress.