18 January 2020

Review || The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters





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.

 

"The lady. She looks hungry, like maybe she's not a lady at all, but a monster wearing a lady face. That's how they trick you, monsters. They put normal faces on so you think they're real, but they're not. And when you get too close to run away, they show you their real ones," she says, eyes serious and far too knowing.


From the outside looking in, Dr. Heather Cole has it all together, until the day she receives half of a best friends heart necklace in the mail. The same half heart that she last saw around the neck of her childhood best friend. The night she killed her. 

Told in successive flashbacks of the past and the present day, The Dead Girls Club weaves paranoia and threats of evil effortlessly until you are unsure exactly what the real truth is. Centering on the bond between young Heather and best friend Becca, The Dead Girls Club keeps its secrets close and the truth even closer. The author doles out these snippets of knowledge bit by bit, always giving you just enough to make you think you have it all figured out.   

As we delve deeper into the past, adult Heather's sanity becomes more and more questionable. You start to wonder if her paranoia isn't all-consuming. Maybe what she remembers didn't happen. She's distrusting of all around her and soon she's teetering with one foot over the abyss. It's almost painful to watch as she spirals further and further out of control in her search for the mysterious sender of the necklace. 

Walters overlays this part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age saga with The Red Lady, an urban legend style story birthed from the mind of a teenage girl.  It's never told whether this entity has a basis in history, but for the purposes of The Dead Girls Club, it doesn't need to have one. Becca becomes so caught up in the myth of the Red Lady that her belief transcends its origins. 

While The Dead Girls Club is more thriller than paranormal, it does a reliable job of drawing you in. While the past was more momentous than present-day, I was still engaged. The real shining star here is the genuine connection between the girls, their friendship and the emotional rollercoaster of youth.