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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

When She Was Me

Narrator: Imani Jade Powers

Dreamscape Media

ISBN: 9781728289533

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: 05/07/2024

Format: Paperback & audio

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ARC)

There's only one way out of these woods…

Ever since that night, twin sisters Cassie and Lenora have been inseparable. As the sole permanent residents of Cabin Two, their refuge on an isolated Tennessee campground, they manage to stay away from prying eyes, probing questions, and true crime junkies.

Just the two of them, Cassie and Lenora against the world. The peace and quiet is almost enough to make them forget what happened all those years ago. Almost.

Until a teenage girl camping at the neighboring cabin goes missing, and the memories come rushing back. As the crime becomes ever more recognizable—they know better than anyone that so-called 'happy families' can be anything but—each sister suspects the other knows more than she's letting on….

Trapped in the isolating, claustrophobic wilderness, Cassie and Lenora must piece together the truth of what happened—and the sinister truth lurking in their own pasts—before it's too late.

Each sister suspects the other knows more than she’s letting on—but what happens when the person you trust most is the person you’re most afraid of?


My Review

Marlee Bush's breakout debut novel, WHEN SHE WAS ME, is an atmospheric, unsettling, twisty, hypnotic crime, psychological thriller—featuring twin sisters and the mystery, secrets, suspicion, and suspense surrounding their relationship past and present.

Each sister suspects the other knows more than she’s letting on—but what happens when the person you trust most is the person you’re most afraid of?


The author keeps you on the edge until the final page in this slow-burn fascinating suspense. Which twin do you trust? Do they trust one another?

Something happened fifteen years ago. Since then, twin sisters Cassie and Lenora have been inseparable.

The girls live at a Tennessee campground in Cabin Two. It is remote and isolated, and they can keep to themselves without prying eyes, the media, and true crime junkies.

There have been plenty of visitors in Cabin Three, from writers on deadline to weekend getaways and those wanting to unplug. The difference between the visitors and the twins is that the visitors always leave while the twins remain.

Cassie films a true crime podcast and takes care of her sister, Lenora, who is an agoraphobe. The only time she goes outside is to the shared outdoor bathhouse.

The campground's old owner dies, and the property is sold to a new owner. The girls will continue to live there full-time. A woman named Sarah Hill has moved into Wayne’s cabin.

The novel alternates between Cassie and Lenora and then chapters from the point of view of one twin years earlier, but the reader does not know from whose perspective it is written.

The novel heats up, and the girl's quiet life unravels when Cabin Three is rented to a family with a teenage girl, Tilly, who later goes missing. Tilly disappears in the night and is later found dead. Who killed Tilly, and why?

It is told from each sister's POV, with past (then) to present. There is a lot of introspection about what is going on within the girls' heads and their inner thoughts. They are both secretive.

The author cleverly keeps the reader guessing as to what happened to the girls and they are unreliable narrators. Love, loss, and long-buried secrets.

Hauntingly beautiful! WHEN SHE WAS ME is an atmospheric, sinister, eerie, and spellbinding murder mystery whodunit (literary fiction) exploring trauma, complex, broken, and dysfunctional family bonds, with a backdrop of the forest and this chilling campground which is almost like another character. Campgrounds and parks are scary and make a great setting for this thriller. There is a surprising twist at the end and how the girls came to be at this campground.

Marlee Bush is an author to watch! I look forward to reading more from this new voice in fiction.

AUDIOBOOK: I listened to the spellbinding audiobook, narrated by Imani Jade Powers, delivering a spine-chilling performance. I also read the e-book.

The novel is for fans of Laura McHugh and if you enjoy twin thrillers such as: The Lies I Told Mary Burton, First Born Will Dean, The Good Sister Sally Hepworth, Her Perfect Twin Sarah Bonner, and Beside Myself Ann Morgan— do give WHEN SHE WAS ME a whirl!

Many thanks to Poisoned Pen Press, NetGalley, and Dreamscape Media for an ARC and ALC for an honest opinion. #CoverCrush

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Pub Date: May 7, 2024


"A nail-biting story of sisterhood, suspicion, and suspense. When She Was Me weaves together past and present seamlessly to create a twist you won't see coming. I couldn't put it down!" — Tracy Sierra, author of Nightwatching

"I tore through When She Was Me with my heart in my throat―the prose was cunning and beautiful; the atmosphere was claustrophobic and unsettling; the imagery was dark and vibrant and the strange dynamic between the sisters was hard to look away from. In short, Marlee Bush has crafted one of the most mesmerizing psychological thrillers I have ever read."

― Ashley Tate, author of Twenty-Seven Minutes

"When She Was Me is eerie, captivating, and full of twists. I gasped out loud multiple times."

― Darcy Coates, USA Today bestselling author of Dead of Winter

"When She Was Me is a powerfully gripping debut. Atmospheric and lushly described, it reads like a tense, vivid dream. The serpentine twists and nuanced character relationships will haunt you long after you turn the last page."

― RJ Jacobs, author of This is How We End Things

"A mesmerizing, addictive thriller that will keep readers guessing from start to jaw-dropping finish. Told in vibrant, hypnotic prose, with complex relationships and haunting secrets at its core, When She Was Me is a standout debut from a wildly talented new author. Marlee Bush is one to watch."

― Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of The Girls Are All So Nice Here

"A searing, blistering thriller that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until its final, dizzying twist. Beautifully written and as tender as it is terrifying, Marlee Bush is a breakout new voice to watch." — Jenny Hollander, author of Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead

About the Author

MARLEE BUSH lives in Alabama with her husband and children.

With degrees in Criminology and English, she’s obsessed with true crime and documentaries. Her favorite stories to tell are the kind that make you double check the locks on your door at night.

When She Was Me is her debut novel.







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