The Scarred Letter

“Authentic reboot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter for today’s readers. Heather Primm publishes the truth on her blog and pays an appalling price. It’s up to Heather’s younger sister to remind her what’s true and what’s not—and help her find a way forward. A powerful book.” — Adele Abbot, author, Of Machines & Magics and Postponing Armageddon

Published by Barking Rain Press, The Scarred Letter is a modernization of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, taking the themes of the original but integrating them into a modern setting with modern problems instead of Puritan ones. If you’ve never read The Scarlet Letter, my novel is still a great YA read–no background knowledge of Hawthorne’s original is required. It’s available at, the Barking Rain Press bookstore, and at other online retailers.

Scarred Leter FinalOverview: Heather Primm never anticipated that a single blog post could ruin her life.

Heather’s scoop about steroid use by key players on the school football team sets off an investigation that strips the Orchard Valley Thunderbolts of their state title—and earns Heather a coveted journalism prize. Hated by those involved in the scandal, despised by jealous members of the newspaper staff, ignored by her newly-popular ex-boyfriend, and even berated by her mother, Heather is attacked and a chilling “T” is carved into her face.

Now stigmatized as a traitor, she becomes the object of scorn for nearly all of Orchard Valley High. But when the school offers to send her to a private academy to hush up the matter, Heather is forced to make a decision. Should she refuse to allow fear to control her life by holding to the truth, or accept the chance to escape and build a new life?

Written by a veteran English teacher, The Scarred Letter weaves themes from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter into an accessible, intelligent tale of modern isolation and a young woman’s quest for truth and acceptance.

The cover was designed by Craig Jennion. You can check out his website at

If you are a school teacher or librarian interested in ordering class sets, the novel is available through Mackin Educational Resources. You can also contact the publisher directly. Study Guide Available!

Sign up to receive a free preview of the first four chapters here as well as a 35% discount code.

The Scarred Letter book trailer:

“High school becomes the perfect substitute for Hawthorne’s Puritan society in this accessible take on The Scarlet Letter. Surrounded by ruthless cliques and wannabe outsiders, Heather finds out just how hard standing up for yourself and your beliefs can be. A powerful message for readers of all ages.” — Sheri S. Levy, author, Seven Days to Goodbye



“I highly recommend to (upper) middle school readers, young adult, and adults as well. A well written fantastic story. A must read for all.” -Sheri W. (full review here)


“Val Muller wrote this to be both gut-wrenching and lyrical, drawing inspiration for her characters and the story from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel. The juxtaposition of the beautiful and almost-grotesque paint an intriging, accurate picture of life in the halls of a school made famous for sports achievements—and what it’s like to be an outsider. The climax of Heather’s “before” and introduction to the “after”–the branding of her as a traitor in the form of a large “T” drawn across the middle of her face—tugs at readers hearts while putting into perspective what happens when otherwise good people stand by and let others speak (or, in this instance, react) for them.” – Betwixt These Pages (full review here)


View my interview with Loudoun County Public Schools:

Writers Block – Valerie Egger from LCPS-TV on Vimeo.

I had a great time chatting with readers at the Battle of the Books semi-finals in Loudoun County. My favorite fan quote of the day: “Adam Hollowcast is bae!”


Related Topics:

In Memoriam: A Teacher of Human Beings (my dedication of the book to Ms. Phillips)
I was lucky enough to have Ms. Phillips as my first grade teacher from September until late in the year, when she passed away…

When the World Lives a Lie: Is Cheating in Schools the Status Quo?
When I was in school, I had a bizarre experience involving cheating…

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