The Dead Girls Club
by Damien Angelica Walters
My rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Suspense, horror
Heather Cole is a 40ish-year-old child psychologist with a loving husband and a quiet life. Then her life is turned upside-down by the arrival of half of a “Best Friends Forever” necklace in the mail. While the other half of that necklace is safe at her house, she knows this half was last seen on the body of her best friend who died 30 years ago…at Heather’s own hand. What follows is a tale of fear and obsession as Heather tries to find out who sent her the necklace, while having terrifying memories and dreams about her teenage days, when she and her friends tried to summon a witch.
I know that the lower I rate a book, the longer the review tends to be, so I’ll try to be more succinct in this one. Most of what I really want to say is spoilery anyway, so here goes. I really did not like the main character…couldn’t connect with her at all. I also didn’t find the mystery or the twists all that interesting or surprising, and pretty strongly disliked the ending. And the synopsis is very misleading.
The story is told in 2 timelines–the NOW is first-person POV with Heather as an adult narrator. The THEN is third-person POV, but still focuses on teenage Heather. I could not stand adult Heather. She acts like a victim of this mysterious person who is sending her little things that Heather knows were directly related to the night Becca died, but uses this as an excuse to stalk people from her past and treat pretty much everyone she interacts with terribly. By the second half of the book, I would literally groan every time the book went back to the NOW storyline, because it was just so boring. Her obsession with finding out what was going on turned her into a monster. And don’t even get me started on how terrible she became at her job, which just bugged me so much.
I also got to a point by halfway in the book where reading it made me feel kinda skeevy. Heather had a habit of picking at her cuticles when she was nervous and stressed, which of course she was during the entire book. As an author, it is important to give characters quirks, ticks, habits like this to make them seem real, but the amount that her peeling, biting, and scratching at herself enough to draw blood is shown got under my skin (pun intended).
I am surprised I haven’t seen this in any reviews yet, but during the THEN timeline, the teenage girls go into a bit too much detail about their menstrual cycle for my taste, which makes me feel especially bad for any men who read it. There’s just no need for some of what they said to be included in this book…at all.
Now about the horror aspect…I honestly can’t even tell you why I requested a book classified as horror (I told myself that it must not have been listed as horror until later, but I really can’t say if that’s true), because I am really not into horror in general. But I steeled myself for a scary read…that hardly came. The supernatural elements that the book promised were flimsy and constantly explained away by the MC. I think I came to realize at some point that the narrator was very unreliable, which just made me doubt everything that happened in the THEN parts. I also didn’t find the stories about the Red Lady scary. A bit gruesome and over-the-top, yes, but not so much scary. Near the end, the combination of reading the last 25% at night and a decently creepy scene did finally give me some chills, but that was pretty much it. I’m seriously a wimp when it comes to scary things, so that might tell you something about the level of horror in this book. I also wouldn’t really classify it as a thriller, so suspense is the best I could come up with.
In the end, a lot of this probably boils down to personal preference. So this wasn’t a good book for me, but it has plenty of 4- and 5-star reviews. The THEN parts contain some 90s nostalgia that a lot of people will probably enjoy, and the horror and thriller elements will likely hit the mark with plenty of people. So if it seems interesting to you, please be sure to check out others’ reviews for this book.
Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me a copy of this book to review.
Find out more about The Dead Girls Club
Publication date: December 10, 2019
If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!