Parkwood Hills

A Gay Young Adult Mystery Thriller

Fiction - LGBTQ
440 Pages
Reviewed on 09/25/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

Parkwood Hills by Kristian Daniels introduces Joshua Redgrave, who has never been in a relationship and can no longer hide who he is. Michael Pendergrass, a new teacher, awakens the feelings that Joshua has been repressing for years. Michael was accepted by the community of this small town, but he was afraid that the townsfolk and his family would learn that he was gay. Katie Benson, a single thirty-year-old with one thing on her mind, worked at Parkwood Hills High School. Katie is interested in Michael, but he does not want anything to do with her. Katie is not used to being rejected and spills Michael’s secret. Joshua meets Frederick, and they are forced to find other ways to be together because of rejection and societal stigmas.

Parkwood Hills was a page-turner, and I could not put it down. Kristian Daniels created a roller coaster ride of emotions, involving fear, denial, and rejection. The story was much darker than I expected, with verbal and physical abuse. Joshua, Frederick, and Michael just wanted to live their lives as gays but were not accepted by the community. The romance between Joshua and Frederick was believable, and I enjoyed it. The two of them were strong enough to continue with the relationship despite opposition from their parents. Katie was a horrible person, and despite her background, I had no sympathy for her. The story was beautifully written, and the emotions and struggles of the gay community were handled with great sensitivity. It is a heartwarming story of bravery and self-discovery in a challenging situation.

K.C. Finn

Parkwood Hills is a work of fiction in the LGBTQ+ thriller and suspense subgenres. It is suitable for young adult and adult readers alike and contains some moderate violence, sexual references, and explicit language. Penned by author Kristian Daniels, this gripping young adult mystery thriller delves into the complexities of identity, love, and prejudice in a closed-minded community. We are introduced to Joshua Redgrave, a popular but closeted eighteen-year-old, and Michael Pendergrass, the new teacher who awakens suppressed feelings within him. As Joshua grapples with his identity, Michael faces unwanted attention, setting the stage for a suspenseful and emotionally charged story.

Reading this book was a true rollercoaster of emotions. Author Kristian Daniels artfully explores the struggles and dangers faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in intolerant environments. The characters are authentic and relatable, and their experiences are portrayed with sensitivity and compelling, emotive dialogue exchanges. Joshua's journey of self-discovery and Michael's attempts to navigate an unwelcome suitor make for a compelling narrative. What struck me most about this book was its portrayal of the pervasive prejudice and hostility that the LGBTQ+ community can encounter. It raises important questions about the consequences of discrimination and the lengths people will go to protect those they care about, which is a valuable message for YA fiction today. It serves as a reminder of the importance of acceptance, empathy, and standing up against bigotry whilst also being a highly interesting, fast-paced, and enjoyable thriller novel. Overall, Parkwood Hills is a highly recommended read that provides a powerful message wrapped in a gripping mystery, making it a must-read for young adults and anyone interested in exploring issues of identity and discrimination.

Miche Arendse

Parkwood Hills by Kristian Daniels follows the story of Joshua Redgrave, a high school senior who can’t wait to leave behind his small little town. That is until he meets Michael Pendergrass, the new philosophy teacher who begins to stir up feelings within him. Never having been in a relationship, Joshua comes to the realization that he may be gay and decides to confess to Michael on a whim, only for things to quickly go downhill.

To say I experienced an emotional rollercoaster while reading Parkwood Hills by Kristian Daniels is an understatement. The story started out light-hearted and progressively got more complicated and intense the further you read. The characters were so charming, save for the antagonist, and I think each character played their part perfectly. It became clear that Daniels wanted this book to focus on how the ignorance and discrimination of people can cause harm to minority groups, especially within overly religious small towns. The radical beliefs of the people end up causing so much harm and it was heart-breaking to see what Michael, Joshua, and Frederic had to endure. Despite the darker themes in the story I still very much enjoyed this book, particularly seeing Joshua become confident in his identity and standing up for himself against his family and friends. It was very impactful and I think many people will find his struggles and experiences relatable. Parkwood Hills is definitely worth the read and I would recommend it to readers, especially those interested in the issues faced by LGBTQ+ individuals.