Book Review: Devastation Road by Joanna Baker

Devastation Road (Beechworth Trilogy #1)
by Joanna Baker

Publication date: May 9th 2018
Publisher: Soren Press (first published January 1st 2004)
Pages: 392


The clues were in front of them the whole time. Matt and Chess should have been able to see who killed Debbie. Can you?

It used to be called Station Road, but eight years ago things started catching fire. Then a girl was killed, and someone got smart with the name.

Now it’s happening again. There’s a fire. Matt Tingle and Chess Febey find a girl drowned in a pond.

Chess isn’t Matt’s friend. She’s one of those people you get stuck with – well meaning, total liability. But she knows how to answer questions, and there are plenty of those: Why are Tara and Wando afraid? What is the meaning of the amber necklace? How can a car be blue and white at the same time?

Before they can find out who killed Debbie, Matt and Chess have to put themselves in danger, they have to look deep into themselves, and they have to reveal things about the past.

Other people’s secrets …

… and the truth about what happened all those years ago, on Devastation Road.

Source: Goodreads


“I opened my eyes and stared into darkness. I was lying on my back facing the ceiling, and I knew without thinking that I’d been woken by a sharp sound.”

In the opening pages of this book, teenager Matt Tingle finds himself caught in a fire started deliberately, leaving the reader with a lot of questions straight away (who, what, where, when, how?). Matt and his friend Chess later find local woman drowned in a pond and a local girl called Jeanette was killed a few years ago too. Why are all of these terrible things happening in the small town of Yackandandah, Victoria?

“‘What happened?’

‘Run over. Driver didn’t stop. Right near your place – so back then it was near Tara’s place. It was the day after their garage went up. Jeanette was out walking along the road for some reason. She was sixteen.'”

Matt and Chess decide to investigate, determined to uncover the truth.

This is young adult fiction and Matt is supposed to be 15 years old, but I couldn’t help but feel that he and the other characters acted a little older than their years at times. Either that, or I was a very naive, innocent teenager! Matt and Chess are great detectives and it was a nice change to read a younger take on the typical mystery who dunnit.

In general this is a really well constructed and well written mystery that kept me guessing right up to the end. The chapters were kept short and I sped through the pages in just a couple of days, pleasantly surprised by the ending. I enjoyed the Egyptian mythology aspects of the book and there were many different themes covered in this story to keep things interesting so it didn’t drag or feel too long. It’s always nice to read about a new place too!

I’m really glad to know that this is part of a trilogy and I can’t wait to get started with the second book. Keep your eyes peeled for a review soon!

Overall rating: I really enjoyed this story by Joanna Baker. ‘Devastation Road’ is a well-paced mystery that I’d recommend for any fans of the genre, even if you don’t think that YA fiction is for you – 4 stars!

Thank you to the author Joanna Baker for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

See my other reviews of books by Joanna Baker here:


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