I love secretive thrillers almost as much as I love horror novels so I was excited when I heard about The Dead Girls Club because it promised a bit of both. In the end it was more of a thriller with a horror threat/thread running throughout. Those bits were creepy as heck though!
I don’t like to say too much about thrillers/mysteries/suspense novels (or whatever you like to call them) because it is far too easy to say too much so I’m going to keep this brief. Basically it is a tale told in two timelines. There is the Then and there is the Now. Heather features in both timelines because this is her story. Things start out weird when a grown up Heather receives an unwanted surprise. Someone has left an envelope in her office, tucked inside is a necklace that was last seen on a dead girl. This sends Heather into a spiral as her past comes back to haunt her.
I’ll get this out of the way first. Adult Heather is a MESS. She remains a mess and she becomes a bigger mess as more of her story is revealed in the Now. She is a professional woman with a very difficult job but you’d never know it based on some of the decisions she makes in this story. She allows her past to consume her and she acts irrationally. With all of that said, it makes sense. I mean, this woman is hiding some serious shit that would send the sanest person into a panicked spiral so I get it and these aren’t complaints. Not from me, anyway. I like imperfect characters and Heather is most definitely one of those.
“I have done a monstrous thing, but I’m not a monster. I’m not.”
In the THEN section we meet Heather and her closest friends when they’re about 12 or so. They have an obsession with true crime and all things spooky and call their little group the “Dead Girls Club”. They hang out at an abandoned house and tell each other creepy tales. The most compelling one is the story of the Red Lady. They work each other up into a frenzy with that one and it is totally believable. One of the girls is experiencing trauma at home and they attempt to summon the Red Lady and things, as they do, go awry.
I loved the backstory and the entire mythos around the Red Lady. It was goosebump inducing. It's easy to imagine how a group of young girls could become consumed with the appeal of it all. The coming of age story of these girls was a breath of fresh air. We typically get stories featuring boys and their spooky childhoods. This was a very genuine tale about girls. From the talk of periods to the petty jealousy and daily worries and easily bruised friendships, it was all very real and I enjoyed the THEN segments more than I can say. They were painful and authentic to the experience of growing up female. I would like more of this kind of fiction, please!
The Dead Girls Club may not be what I’d consider a perfect story and it has a very wispy thread of horror, but it IS super creepy and mysterious and highly readable – just the way I like my thrillers and I recommend it if anything I’ve said above intrigues you.
I received my copy for review consideration from Netgalley.