Amazon discontinued the ability to create images using their SiteStripe feature and in their infinite wisdom broke all previously created images on 12/31/23. Many blogs used this feature, including this one. Expect my archives to be a hot mess of broken book cover images until I can slowly comb through 20 years of archives to make corrections.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Mini-Review: The Dead Girls Club

In a continuing (futile) bid to clean out neglected ARCs from my Kindle, I recently looked at the mystery and suspense titles I had languishing that I could, in turn, score audiobook copies of via work. First up in this project is The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters, a suspense horror title from late 2019. 

In 1991, Heather Cole is a pretty typical pre-teen girl. She's got a best friend, Becca, and with two other girls, they form The Dead Girls Club. Like a lot of kids, they're a bit obsessed with the macabre - ghost stories, serial killers, Stephen King novels, things that go bump in the night. While there are four of them, Becca is the undisputed leader of the group, and has a love of ghost stories - which is how she starts telling the girls stories about The Red Lady, the spirit of a witch who was murdered centuries before. Heather knows these are just stories, until Becca starts acting weird, insisting The Red Lady is real.  And then, Becca ends up dead.

Thirty years later, Heather is a child psychologist, happily married, and has done everything to put that summer, Becca, and The Red Lady behind her. It's a secret she has buried deep, until one day a necklace arrives in the office mail. The other half of a Best Friends Forever necklace. The half that belonged to Becca. The half that Heather knows Becca was wearing the night she died because Heather was there.  Someone knows Heather's secret and is toying with her - but who?

Let's get this out of the way right up front - this sounds like a supernatural thriller with an unreliable narrator's not. There's non-woo-woo explanations for everything, so just roll with it. Also, while Heather most definitely runs around halfcocked, calling her an unreliable narrator strains. Oh, don't get me wrong, she's Annoying AF - but she's mainly sloppy and stupid - not gorked out on pain meds and booze.

The first half of this book is really slow. The story goes back and forth in time - Annoying AF Heather in Present Day and Annoying AF Becca in 1991.  And by the end I felt bad for thinking either of them was Annoying AF, but there you have it.  It's a lot of Heather freaking out in present day and Becca telling scary stories in 1991. That's it.  I basically kept listening because I had to know what Heather's secret was and what really happened to Becca - especially once I figured out the whole "supernatural" thing was a bit of a red herring. 

However by around the 50-60% mark things really start to cook and I couldn't tear myself away.  I raced to the finish and then met my final quandary.  Yes, bad people are punished.  Just not all the bad people. The reader finds out what happened to Becca, but secrets get kept, the world keeps on turning, but justice for Becca?  At the end of the day? Only partly.

Final Grade = C+


azteclady said...

Now I want to know--but not enough to read it (I really don't do horror or horror adjacent well at the best of times, which these ::gestures at world and work situation:: really aren't)

But I'm glad at least the last good chunk was absorbing, even if ending was unsatisfactory.

Wendy said...

AL: It was an uneven reading experience, but the author gets her due for keeping me so invested in the second half. Although yes, as time marches on I find the ending too problematic to recommend this whole-heartedly to anyone.