ARC Review: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Sawkill GirlsSawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Warnings: violence, gore, suicidal ideation, self-harm, parental abuse, death of family member, coercion, amisia

Sawkill Girls brings about a murder mystery with the gothic charm of The Raven Cycle and a slice of Supernatural. For generations, girls have been disappearing from the island, girls who are friends of the Mortimer family, girls who are never found again. Now, three girls are called to face down the evil that plagues the island. The plot is has strong gothic vibes, and revels in the horror atmosphere it creates. The writing lends to a mystery being built up, to a supernatural conclusion and a hard fight that takes the protagonists beyond the known world.

The story is narrated by three main characters, Valerie, Marion and Zoey. Valerie has been brought up in an abusive household, raised to serve a monster and told she has no alternative other than the one she is told. Her character development is complicated, and written cleverly to portray its journey from a feigned carelessness to an impassioned longing. Marion, who has learnt to push down her feelings to be a strong person for her family finally gets a chance to feel things, when she meets Val. Her personal loss is also a great impetus for her character to make decisions in the book. And Zoey, who is a marvelous fighter, strikes back against the things that are traditional for the island, be it the attitude of the people or the way monsters are fought. Together, they herald a change for their world.

The writing, as described before, is very atmospheric. Marion’s POV, particularly, records her changes, her evolving senses and strengthening connection with the island. Val’s POV shows us the ruthlessness of the monster lurking as well as the cruelty of her family; something she can been complicit in, but also feels remorse for. Zoey’s is partly grief and partly fire, and her righteous cause is tempered with Marion’s caution, and the friendship between the two of them, while developed shortly, forms a strong bond. Zoey’s relationship with Grayson is also portrayed with sensitivity as well as the levity required for teenagers. The only thing where the book didn’t satisfy me is the pacing – it spent most of the first half just building up the atmosphere and everything, and was dragging on for a lot of parts. It does horror well, but the stakes aren’t raised until like 2/3rd of the book.

Overall, it is an atmospheric read, perfect for fall.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Katherine Tegen Books, via Edelweiss.

View all my reviews

Buy links

Amazon | The Book Depository | Wordery

Release date: October 2, 2018

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