A supernatural thriller in the vein of A Head Full of Ghosts about two young girls, a scary story that becomes far too real, and the tragic—and terrifying—consequences that follow one of them into adulthood.
Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face…
In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real—and she could prove it.
That belief got Becca killed.
It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night—that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.
The night Heather killed her.
Now, someone else knows what she did…and they’re determined to make Heather pay.
A decades-old friendship that dissolved in the face of pre-teen obsession with a ghost story. A missing girl and a wrongly-imprisoned mother. And now, thirty years later, someone who knows who killed twelve-year-old Becca all those years ago and who is bent on getting their revenge. Add in an unreliable (and mostly unlikeable) narrator to pull The Dead Girls Club together and what you have is something that should be great, but which falls, unfortunately, slightly flat.
Told in two timelines by Heather, that unreliable narrator, who was one of four girls that comprised the serial-killer-loving Dead Girls Club. We’re told right off the bat that Heather killed Becca, but she has spent a long time repressing what happened to her best friend in the basement of a vacant house - maybe even trying to make up for it (which is probably the only explanation for her nonsensical career choice as a child psychologist). Then, one day, right as Becca’s mother, convicted of murdering her daughter, is released from prison, Heather receives the other half of a necklace she hasn’t seen in years - Becca’s necklace.
As more long-hidden items reappear in different places and Heather starts to unravel, she becomes more and more erratic and risks everything to find out who her stalker is, and what they know.
Alongside the present day, we delve through the past and into the minds of two young, very different pre-teen girls, their unusual obsession, child abuse, and a little bit of mass hysteria through the story of the Red Lady - a terrifying manifestation of Becca’s desire to escape her situation.
Was the Red Lady real, and who is it that knows what really happened in that vacant house?
What I Loved: There are more than enough misdirects to keep you guessing, and our big-bad is someone you definitely don’t expect. Pacing is pretty good (once you get through the somewhat slow start), and overall, Damien Angelica Walters has created a fleshed-out cast of characters, and a delightfully creepy vibe.
What I Didn’t Love: This book was busy - there was just so much going on, it was difficult to keep track of all the different threads at times. And while I ordinarily love to hate unlikeable characters, I just couldn’t find anything redeemable about Heather and her multitudes of stupid decisions, which made it difficult to connect.
Conclusion: Less supernatural and more psychological, the themes of this one will suit some and not others. Damien Angelica Walters is good at what she does and I am looking forward to seeing more of her work.
I was provided this book for free by Crooked Lane Books (via Netgalley) in return for my honest opinion. Please note that some links in this book may be affiliate links to help us keep the lights on :)