June 19, 2023

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight

By Kalynn Bayron
Review by
In You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight, Kalynn Bayron uses the premise of embedding real murders among haunted house-style fake ones to clever effect.
Share this Article:

Blood and gore are everywhere. Screams echo through the night. The masked killer, machete in hand, is at the gate . . . but Charity, ready with her knife, stabs him first. She announces that she’s the final girl—the one who always survives.

It’s just another night at Camp Mirror Lake, a terror simulation game where Charity and her teenage co-workers chase paying guests through the woods in a loose reenactment of a cult classic horror movie that was filmed there a generation ago. The summer is almost over, but Camp Mirror Lake is short staffed—where have Heather, Jordan and Felix gotten to?—so Charity invites her girlfriend, Bezi, and their friend Paige to pitch in for the last few days. The sound effects are cued up, the fake blood and raw chicken mixture is ready to be poured and the latex body parts have been strategically placed. But on the night before the season finale, someone appears who isn’t in the script. And then the real terror begins. 

Author Kalynn Bayron knows the ins and outs of the horror genre, and she lets us in on all the tropes through the character of Paige, a wise and wisecracking horror fan who’s quick to call out the dangers of flirting (“As soon as people start having sex, it’s like a bat signal to the killer.”) and the stupidity of chasing clues after dark (“Why do the thing that always leads to somebody getting murdered in the woods?”). Like the Scream franchise and Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods, these self-referential hat tips don’t give away the plot as much as they make the path through it even more fun. The tension is high, the isolated camp setting is delightfully creepy and the premise of embedding real murders among the trappings of fake ones is used to clever effect. Creaky trapdoors, secret passageways, dusty storage rooms and bobbing canoes abound, creating spookily atmospheric imagery that matches the characters’ increasing sense of dread. And Paige is right that pieces of the full story are often lurking in the corners, revealed little by little as the body count rises.

Plan to read You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight under a blanket with a flashlight, but only if you’re willing to stay up late. As horror fans know, there’s always one last twist at the end.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.