Blog Tour Review: Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A horror novel full of insects and suspense that will leave your skin crawling

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Julia Lynn Rubin for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: YA Horror
Publishing Date: May 24, 2022

Protect the girls

Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.
Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger. 

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Julia Lynn Rubin lives the writer’s life in Brooklyn, where she finished an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School in 2017. For three years she served as a writing mentor for Girls Write Now, New York City’s premiere writing program for high school girls, and she continues to facilitate pre-K literacy programs throughout Brooklyn at libraries and family shelters.Julia has been writing books, poems, and stories since first grade, and loves reading about everything from film analysis (she’s a film nerd) to psychology and philosophy. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as the North American ReviewSierra Nevada Review, and The Lascaux Review, and she has written for a variety of online publications, including BuzzFeedThe Content StrategistFatherly, and Wetpaint Entertainment.

Julia is passionate about realism and diversity in teen literature. She hopes to one day own a French bulldog, pug, Boston terrier, or perhaps a mix of all three. She loves indie films, drag shows, and spending as much time as possible at the beach.​

She is represented by Lauren Spieller of Triada US Literary Agency

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Welcome back to the blog! Today I need to start off this review by telling all potential readers to heed the trigger warnings. I’ve linked the wiki I run with my partner (booktriggerwarnings.com) above so that you can get a better look at everything that people have noted for the novel. I knew this was likely going to be gory as it’s advertised as a horror novel, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of detail regarding insects and animal corpses. The main character of this novel suffers from a fear of insects (and spiders) and as a result tends to describe them using really vivid details. On top of that, there was this overarching theme of animal corpse desecration that made me very uncomfortable. Please be aware of this before you head into this one.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about this book! The main plot follows a young girl named Arlee who has just joined a summer camp at the insistence of her mother (who is a camp alumnus). As each camp day passes, Arlee discovers that something about the place is not quite right. In order to unravel the dark and mysterious aura that surrounds the camp, she’ll need to uncover hidden secrets about her mother’s past. This story mixes mystery, suspense, and occult themes to give you a thrilling ride from start to finish.

Julia Lynn Rubin did a great job in keeping me unnerved throughout the novel. Arlee is a somewhat unreliable narrator, so from the very beginning the reader knows that things will not always be what they seem. This theme of unease continues page after page as Arlee is forced to deal with unsettling events that only escalate with each passing day.

This novel also has a surprising amount of queer representation. Off the top of my head I remember multiple Sapphic relationships being mentioned/on-page, an Achillean relationship, and a trans character. While there are a few brief mentions of queerphobia, they’re very minor and aren’t a big part of the main story.

Aside from the graphic animal gore, the only thing I struggled with for Primal Animals was the pacing . From the very beginning I was hoping that someone would die, go missing, or that some otherwise dark and life-changing event would happen in the chapter I was reading. While this does happen eventually, I wish that it would have occurred sooner in the novel with the tension building off of it instead of leading to it. This is probably what contributed to my feeling that the end of the novel was a little too rushed. Admittedly, I’m a bit impatient when it comes to certain storylines (in murder mysteries I want the victim to die in the first chapter and I’m always yelling at two characters in a slow-burn romance to GET IT OVER WITH) so I’m probably not the best judge of character when it comes to suspense-building.

Primal Animals was released yesterday, so if you’re interested, don’t forget to grab your copy at the links above!

2 thoughts on “Blog Tour Review: Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

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