Deadly Animals by Marie Tierney

Deadly Animals by Marie Tierney

Are monsters born or made?




Any book that features a thirteen-year-old girl as its heroine is going to attract me in – I’m a big fan of young adult fiction.

But this is no young adult story, and Ava is no ordinary teenage girl. Growing up in Rubery, a deprived area of Birmingham, in the eighties when children could run free,  she has a keen interest in anatomy – and collects the corpses of roadkill to study their decomposition.

And it is as she is going to check on the body of a fox that she stumbles across the gruesome remains of one of her classmates – a bully of a boy called Mickey.

Her anonymous call to the police gets DSI Delahaye involved. Though unaware that it was she who discovered Mickey’s body, when he meets Ava in the course of his inquiries, he soon realises that she’ll be an asset to the investigation.

As Delahaye conducts his own investigation, Ava and her faithful sidekick John, conduct theirs, working in the shadows to help Delahaye.

But as another body of a young boy is discovered, and reports of a strange creature roaming the area come in, it becomes clear they are dealing with a monster.

A monster who may or may not be human, and may seek out Ava as his next victim.

Convincing, chilling and thrilling

With its many-layered plotline, this story worked on every single level for me.

The plot of a police investigation into a serial killer was well-executed, convincing, chilling and thrilling.

The suggestion of a non-human monster lurking in the shadows added to the already tense atmosphere.

DSI Delahaye is a warm and sympathetic character, slightly tortured, as all good detectives should be, but open to suggestion and determined to get to the truth.

But it was Ava who made the story really shine. She is a beautifully drawn character – young, clever, vulnerable, a good daughter despite her mother’s failings, a stalwart big sister, and a faithful friend. Her keen sense of justice won’t allow her to avoid danger. She might not have liked Mickey, but he did not deserve to die.

At one point, John teases her as a Nancy Drew, but this story couldn’t be further from Nancy Drew. In many ways it reminds me of Stephen King’s writing. He too, has an affinity with children, making them the heroes of very adult stories, exploiting their fearlessness and strong sense of right and wrong to bring villains and monsters to justice.

Monsters in human form

As the story draws to its horrifying climax, Ava and John grow as people, an indication of the adults they will hopefully become shining through their words and actions.

I finished this book with my heart racing, and so many questions about the nature of monsters in human form. At one point Ava says, “We are our bones.” But we are also our emotions, our fears, our hopes and dreams, and Marie Tierney skilfully explores all this in a story that works on every single level.

Deadly Animals is published by Zaffre in hardback and ebook


About the Author

Deadly Animals is Marie Tierney’s first novel, and was a finalist in the Daily Mail First Novel competition, selected by Peter James as his winner with the comment:  “I found the writing crackling with energy and the story utterly mesmerizing. I feel this writer has huge talent.”


Thanks to Tracy of Compulsive Readers for inviting me along on this tour, and to publishers Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. Catch up with the rest of the blogtour through the links on the poster.




More reviews of thrilling stories

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

When I Was 10 by Fiona Cummins

I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson


  • Marie Tierney
    Posted at 15:43h, 19 February Reply

    Hello. I’m Marie Tierney! Thank you so much for this incredible review. I never thought Ava Bonney would move so many people, and I am so glad that she has made an impact. I will, however, have to reiterate a small detail in the biography part of this page: I am NOT a biology teacher and I am not in Birmingham. I was a teaching assistant, HLTA and an unqualified teacher of art/anatomy, history, and English Creative Writing for many years but I am not a teacher in Birmingham.

    • Karen Byrom
      Posted at 18:03h, 19 February Reply

      Hi Marie, Thanks for your kind comments about my review. I thought this book was brilliant. I’m sorry I got some details wrong in your biography – I’ve amended it now.

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