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  • Mandy McHugh

The Dead Girls Club: Review

I'm conflicted about this book.

I'd been hearing about it on Twitter for a while, and it looked right up my alley. Finding female-centric coming-of-age horror stories is challenging, so based on that alone, I really wanted to love The Dead Girls Club. Nineties references. Blunt girl talk. Macabre-obsessed twelve year olds? Rarely do I see myself in literature, but Walters captured the essence of a nineties summer beautifully. What I loved was the dynamics of friendship, how girls can be loving and accepting while simultaneously being cruel and unforgiving. And while the best friends forever trope was a tad overdone for my liking, the interactions read authentic and added to the conflict in a heart-breaking fashion.

Beyond that, however, things got a little muddled. Some of the dialogue and storytelling was repetitive. The dual POV/timeline structure worked, but I didn't care at all for the "now" MC voice. She's scattered and unprofessional, on age and inexplicably forgetful. She doesn't remember reading texts. Answering phone calls. Not writing notes in her therapy sessions. This seems purposeful, like we're supposed to believe that the Red Lady is real and has returned, choosing to control her in a seasoned attempt at revenge.

But once the "mystery" is solved and the big reveal happens, her memory gaps have nothing to do with the root cause, and they're not really explained. The escalation between characters in some scenes also felt a little contrived. Neighborhood Watch remembers her and calls her out at a party? She couldn't have explained wanting to see an old friend but chickening out? It had to be some shady, dangerous reason because of the Red Lady, and ignoring the rational outlets in favor of pushing the mystery into a more "believable" realm just never hit home for me.

Overall, I liked it, didn't love it, but would definitely read Damien Angelica Walters again.


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