Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre
When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to stay with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She’ll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won’t be exciting, but she’ll cope, right?
Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don’t talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind.
To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried.
Araceli moves in with her aunt in a tiny town where an odd amount of people have gone missing. Araceli finds a mysterious box and seems to be communicating with a young man from the past. Then, when her closest friend goes missing, Araceli decides to do some dangerous investigating with the help of her new friends.
Heartwood Box is a captivating standalone story, reminiscent of The Lake House letters through time and the creepiness of X-Files. I love stories that have to do with time travel and changing the past. So, I had a really fun time trying to figure out what was happening up to the big reveal. There is plenty of mystery, suspense, and teen drama in this unique Young Adult science fiction novel. While I’m not a fan of insta-love, especially through a handful of letters, it was a cute side story and added to the overall mystery. This thrilling story culminates to an exciting finale that doesn’t disappoint.