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Very Bad People


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About The Book

“A twisty, deeply satisfying ride.” —Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars

In this dark academia young adult thriller for fans of The Female of the Species and People Like Us, a teen girl’s search for answers about her mother’s mysterious death leads to a powerful secret society at her new boarding school—and a dangerous game of revenge that will leave her forever changed.

Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. The girls escaped, but their mother drowned, and the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery Calliope is determined to solve. Now sixteen, she transfers to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Tipton promises a peek into the past and a host of new opportunities—including a coveted invitation to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society that looms over campus like a legend.

Calliope accepts, stepping into the exhilarating world of the “ghosts,” a society of revolutionaries fighting for social justice. But when Haunt and Rail commits to exposing a dangerous person on campus, it becomes clear that some ghosts define justice differently than others.

As the society’s tactics escalate, Calliope uncovers a possible link between Haunt and Rail and her mother’s deadly crash. Now, she must question what lengths the society might go to in order to see a victory—and if the secret behind her mother’s death could be buried here at Tipton.


Chapter 1 1
We are the Bolan sisters. Calliope, Lorelei, and Serafina.

If our names sound like they were plucked from a fairy tale, it’s because they were. Momma wanted, above all things, to live in a fairy tale.

We have pale, freckly skin and dark auburn hair, which we refuse to cut. It falls in long jumbles down our backs—thick and wavy for Lorelei and me; wispy curls for Serafina. We are tall for our ages, respectively. We are clumsy. We have mammoth feet and delicate wrists. We see the world with perfect vision. Lorelei and I have green eyes. Serafina’s eyes are brown. When we are together, we collect stares we’d rather return. See? It’s the Bolan girls. The ones who survived.

We don’t live in a fairy tale, but people regard us, sometimes, as if we are more story than girl. More myth than flesh that hurts and bleeds and grieves.

Serafina is seven, the baby. Lorelei and I are so close in age, so close in appearance, so close that we are often mistaken for twins. I am the oldest, sixteen. My sister is fifteen, a year and change behind me.

Our mother loved all magical stories and consulted a variety of sources when naming her daughters. My name, Calliope, was drawn from ancient Greek myth. Lorelei owes hers to German folklore. Serafina is from seraphim, angels of the highest order in Abrahamic religious lore. Put us together, and we are part survival story, part fable, part cautionary tale.

We live with our father in a small village in the Adirondack Mountains. Our house is large and drafty and far from other houses. There is a nearby lake, from which our village takes its name. There is a grocery store and a general store and a movie theater with one screen. In the summer, the vacationers and second-homers move in, and the village hums with life. In the winter, we hunker down, shrinking to a quarter of our size. About eight hundred families live in Plover Lake year round; at school, we average 11.7 students per grade. In harshest winter, you could pack us all into a snow globe and shake.

The Bolans have always lived here, before the accident and after.

When I was little, I loved our house, our school, our postcard town. In my fantasies, I would always live here with my mother, my father, my sisters, and our dog. I could not fathom growing up and moving away. What could possibly tear me from the place that held all my memories, my family, my firsts?

Now, the village is crushing me. It is so small. It has eyes and claws and teeth.

There is a fairy tale like that.

Tomorrow, I am leaving. I might never come back.

Thruway Tragedy: New York Woman Drives Minivan Into Lake


September 26, 2016

An investigation has been opened by local NY authorities.

GREENE COUNTY—On Friday, an upstate New York woman, who was with her three daughters, drove a Honda Odyssey off the road and into a lake bordering the New York State Thruway. The woman, who has been identified as Kathleen Marie Bolan, 38, was found dead. Ms. Bolan’s oldest daughter, 10, led the rescue, getting herself and her two sisters, 9 and 14 months, to safety. From the side of the road, the girls were able to flag down a driver who called 911. Police, assisted by a dive team, found the vehicle submerged in the lake. The body of Ms. Bolan was inside.

Local authorities are investigating possible causes to what the police chief calls “a tragic event.”

Peter Bolan, the girls’ father and husband to Ms. Bolan, says his wife pulled his two oldest daughters out of school early that day without notifying him. “I have no idea where she was headed or why. There was no history of mental illness. Kathy would never drink and drive. You hear stories like this. I never thought it would be my wife, my daughters. Me asking the question—why?”

Why this happened is the question on everyone’s minds. The medics responding to the scene said it is “a miracle” all three daughters survived with only minor injuries. The girls, who are all in stable condition, did not describe any strange behavior from their mother leading up to the crash, and police report no immediate evidence of alcohol or substance use.

“Possibilities include a mechanical failure or distracted driving,” says Chief Mason Sumner of the Greene County Regional Department of Public Safety, who is investigating the crash. “A suicide and triple homicide attempt has not been ruled out as a possible cause. We haven’t ruled anything out at this point. The autopsy may turn up more. I hope we’ll be able to get answers for the family.”

Chief Sumner says he does not believe any other vehicles were involved. Police are trying to determine what happened just before the crash and are seeking the public’s help. If you have any information about the collision, which took place Friday around 4:00 p.m. on 1-87, near the Athens exit, please call the Greene County Regional Department of Public Safety at 518–958–2461.

About The Author

Photo: © Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio

Kit Frick is a MacDowell Fellow and International Thriller Writers Award finalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. She is the author of the young adult thrillers Before We Were Sorry (originally published as See All the Stars), All Eyes on UsI Killed Zoe SpanosVery Bad People, and The Reunion, as well as the poetry collection A Small Rising Up in the LungsThe Split is her first novel for adults. Kit loves a good mystery but has only ever killed her characters. Honest. Visit Kit online at and on Instagram @KitFrick.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (April 4, 2023)
  • Length: 432 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534449749
  • Ages: 14 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

Very Bad People has it all: family secrets, mysteries, lies, romance, a secret society, activism, mischief, and more. So perfectly paced, so well-wrought, I was kept guessing until the end. A twisty, deeply satisfying ride.”

– Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars

“A multi-layered mystery and a razor-sharp indictment of privilege in all its forms, Very Bad People is a stunning thriller.”

– Kara Thomas, author of The Cheerleaders and That Weekend

"Very Bad People is a chilling dive into the dangers of dark academia and family secrets. Kit Frick spins a propulsive tale that twists through hidden rooms and the shadowy wooded edges of an elite boarding school where secrets must be protected at all costs. A startling and addictive thriller!"

– Jennifer Moffett, author of THOSE WHO PREY

* "A doozy of a ride, with thrills and chills aplenty."

– Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Awards and Honors

  • ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults - Top Ten

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