Where Sleeping Girls Lie Book Review
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Book Review: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

I became a die-hard fan of Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé ever since I picked up her debut novel, Ace of Spades a couple years ago and absolutely fell in love with the way she tells the story of queer, colored teens in the YA thriller/mystery genre. When I heard about her new book Where Sleeping Girls Lie earlier this year, I knew it would be a masterpiece just like her last novel.

And as it is in most cases, I was 100% right. 

Where Sleeping Girls Lie Book Review

Flawlessly intriguing, intense and riveting, Where Sleeping Girls Lie is not just another dark academia mystery–it’s a hauntingly beautiful story about girlhood and survival. 

~ Synopsis: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé~

Where Sleeping Girls Lie book cover

Sade Hussein is starting her third year of high school, this time at the prestigious Alfred Nobel Academy boarding school. After being home-schooled all her life and feeling like a magnet for misfortune, she’s not sure what will happen. What she doesn’t expect though is for her roommate Elizabeth to disappear after Sade’s first night. Or for people to think she had something to do with it.

With rumors swirling around her, Sade catches the attention of the most popular girls in school – collectively known as the ‘Unholy Trinity’ – and they bring her into their fold. Between learning more about them – especially Persephone, who Sade finds herself drawn to – playing catch-up in class, and trying to figure out what happened to Elizabeth, Sade has a lot on her plate. It doesn’t help that she’s already dealing with grief from the many tragedies in her family.

And then a student is found dead.

The more Sade investigates, the more she realizes there’s more to Alfred Nobel Academy and its students than she realized. Secrets lurk around every corner and beneath every surface…secrets that rival even her own.


Rating: 5 out of 5.
Release Date: 19th March, 2024
Trigger Warnings: murder, suicide, sexual assault and blackmail, mild descriptions of animal violence

~ Book Review: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé ~

The story follows Sade Hussein as she enrolls herself at the prestigious, private boarding school, Alfred Noble Academy, following her father’s death. The very next day after her arrival, her roommate Elizabeth goes missing. Not only does Sade immediately become the target of vicious rumors and gossip, but the school authorities themselves seem uninterested in finding out what really happened to Elizabeth. Sade resolves to uncover the mystery with Elizabeth’s best friend Baz, but the deeper she looks, the more she finds herself haunted by mysterious messages and the ghosts of her own past.  

First thing first: I absolutely LOVED the representation in this novel. It was so incredibly authentic, which really shouldn’t be a surprise considering the author herself is a Muslim woman of color. I loved how seamlessly Sade’s religion and ethnicity fit into the novel, and the careless attitude that the authorities (the school and the police) had towards Elizabeth’s disappearance–all because she was a visible minority who happened to be a scholarship student instead of a wealthy donor’s child.

The searing critique of elitism in this novel–and that too against the backdrop of an elite boarding school for only the wealthiest people–was incredibly well done. And the greatest tragedy is that such power dynamics are still very much in place in institutions all over the world; the privileged ones are always protected while the most vulnerable are made to suffer. 

We see this blatantly in Where Sleeping Girls Lie as school authorities and the local police show an alarming disinterest in thoroughly investigating what really happened to Elizabeth.

Which is what prompts Sade to take matters into her own hand–not only because the rest of the student body become interested in her, but also because she seems to have ghosts of her own past too. It is very much clear from the very beginning of the novel that Sade has her own dark secrets, and they follow her all the way to Alfred Noble Academy.

None of that stops Sade from trying to find Elizabeth–not even the mysterious and threatening messages she starts receiving the more she dives into her investigation. One of the reasons why Sade is such an amazing main character is that despite having a shy, soft and sweet personality, Sade also possesses a quiet strength and bravery. The entire time that I was reading the novel, I was completely in awe of her, and couldn’t help but root for her at every turn of the page.

Sade is not the only amazing character in the story though. At the core of it, Where Sleeping Girls Lie is ultimately about the painful truth of rape culture and misogyny, but Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé takes it further by creating complex, morally grey (as well as completely corrupt) characters whose stories add depth and layers to the novel. 

Add to that the gloomy, tense, and dark atmosphere of the novel, and you have a masterpiece of a dark academia story that is both hauntingly beautiful and terrifyingly intriguing.

There is some slight queer romance in the story as well, but it is woven naturally into the plot and doesn’t take away from the heart of the novel: which is about girls trying to survive their adolescence in a world that normalizes making them the prey. 

And perhaps the thing that really makes Where Sleeping Girls Lie so unforgettable by the end of the book is that although it is purely a work of fiction, it is still a reality for so many young girls all over the world. Even the aftermath of the novel is rooted in reality–while the ending might be considered somewhat of a happy ending, there is no real justice made…because no real justice is ever given to victims in this society where the abusers get to walk free.

Whether or not young adult or dark academia is your type, Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a must-read novel. It is perhaps one of the most important books in young adult literature, just like The Female Of The Species and The River Has Teeth. If you still haven’t read it, you really should get to it soon. I highly recommend it.

~ Meet The Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé ~

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is the instant New York Times, International bestselling & Award-winning author of ACE OF SPADES and WHERE SLEEPING GIRLS LIE. She is an avid tea drinker, a collector of strange mugs and a recent graduate from a university in the Scottish Highlands where she studied English Literature. When she isn’t spinning dark tales, Faridah can be found examining the deeper meanings in Disney channel original movies. She is represented by Zoë Plant at The Bent Agency.

~ More Books by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé ~

If you enjoyed Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, then do check out her debut novel, Ace of Spades.

What’s your favorite dark academia novel? Share your top, favorite recommendations in the comments below, and let me know what you think of this book too!

Book Review: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé



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