After seeing so many folks raving about this book on Twitter, I had to give it a read. This was my introduction to Damien Angelica Walters and I was not disappointed.
It’s part coming of age, part mystery, part thriller, with bits of horror sprinkled throughout. The story is divided between the past, when the main character, Heather, was a tween member of a 4-girl club obsessed with serial killers, and the present, where she’s working as a child psychologist who’s suddenly haunted by her past. I definitely preferred the “then” segments, which I found more interesting and wherein the characters were just a bit more likeable. The young girls, consumed by group hierarchies and who’s best friends with whom, felt realistic for the most part, which some writers miss when they’re dealing with younger characters, particularly girls.
I enjoyed Walters’ writing style and pacing throughout most of the book. The ending felt a bit cobbled together and rushed, with few real indications throughout the story that lent credibility to how its climax would ultimately unfold, but nothing so glaring that it felt completely out of left field either.
As much as I enjoyed this book, there were a few things that took me out of the story. Heather’s participation in Becca’s delusions and what ultimately came of them was on the unbelievable side. She had a solid understanding of death and that her part in the “ritual” would end with Becca’s. That she would just go along with it because Becca wouldn’t be her friend anymore struck me as odd, to say the least. That was where thing kind of started falling apart for me in what had previously been a fairly solid story.
I also didn’t understand why Rachel was so cold to her when they met again as adults, or why other people who were closer to Heather and had good reason to be angry with her were far more forgiving until long after she’d started acting strangely. Their tolerance levels must just be much higher than my own.
Lastly, and this is a personal grievance, the amount of times Heather chews her cuticles drove me nuts. As a character quirk to indicate anxiety or thoughtfulness, fine, but at the rate this woman bit her fingers, she shouldn’t have had any left!
Those minor issues aside, I think Walters wrote a heartbreaking, sometimes horrific, novel that fans of supernatural horror grounded in reality will enjoy, and I definitely recommend they check it out.