A sharp-edged, supremely twisty thriller about three women who find themselves trapped inside stories they know aren’t their own, from the author of Alice and Near the Bone.
Celia wakes up in a house that’s supposed to be hers. There’s a little girl who claims to be her daughter and a man who claims to be her husband, but Celia knows this family—and this life—is not hers…
Allie is supposed to be on a fun weekend trip—but then her friend’s boyfriend unexpectedly invites the group to a remote cabin in the woods. No one else believes Allie, but she is sure that something about this trip is very, very wrong…
Maggie just wants to be home with her daughter, but she’s in a dangerous situation and she doesn’t know who put her there or why. She’ll have to fight with everything she has to survive…
Three women. Three stories. Only one way out. This captivating novel will keep readers guessing until the very end.
Hello again dear reader or listener, today I have my least favorite kind of review to write, but I shall do so nonetheless, for you, because I care. This book was not bad, I actually read through it pretty fast and was interested throughout. But it wasn’t great either, nor did it draw out the emotional response it ought to, for me to be extra effusive.
With a quick thank you to the Berkley Publishing Group team for approving my eArc request on NetGalley, let’s get to it then!
This is my first book by Henry and while maybe this specific one wasn’t entirely it for me, I did like her writing style enough to want to give her other works a go. Her prose flows and adjusts its pace to fit the exact type of situation she wants to carry across in the most efficient manner. For instance, the first pov renders the slow and growing sense of confusion and dread, while the second builds up to a more frenetic pace, until finally the last pov starts running and it doesn’t let up till the very end. In fact, in Good Girls Don’t Die, Henry stitches together three short stories that eventually come to a connected end and resolution. While this was an interesting premise and structure, I found the finale not so much disappointing as just a simple denouement that somehow missed the exciting climax I was hoping for by a few centimeters. With a few very satisfying kicks of proper female rage however.
The three pov protags share gutsy survival instincts and inner strength common to most women, with each of them showcasing both what makes us strong and at the same time the actual or perceived flaws that they each need to try and overcome in order to make it through. Most of the horror and anxiety doesn’t come from their given situations that they need to figure out but from the lack of control they each have in what is happening. So, in that at least Henry does an amazingly frustrating job, as well as making sure her characters never lose their agency.
Another thing I deeply enjoyed were the jabs at certain real people, such as a certain manchild currently in charge of the sinking ship that is X. Not to mention other eccentric and overly rich white boys. But we digress so suffice it to say, the sass was on point. Moreover this book was somewhat of a horror/thriller/true crime pop-culture Easter egg hunt overall, which is always good fun.
I actually thought this book had several brilliant yet dark moments and its scare factor wasn’t to be found in the gore or eeriness of the plot as much as it was in the implications and toxicity behind specific mentalities. In fact, this is very much a book about the venom that exists in misogynism, and the deranged lengths these kinds of men will go to against women. This book was not scary but for the bitter realization that nothing that happened within was too far beyond the realm of probability. And if I am being honest with myself that is probably one of the reasons I did not enjoy it that much. I was spending far too much time while reading it nodding my head along and thinking this shit is what certain types could and would do to get back at a woman they’ve felt slighted by, or what an incel jackass thinks women are like, and the bitterly sad list goes on.
If this was Henry’s goal to begin with then she passed with flying colors.
In a way this is also very central to how the whole thing wraps up but I can’t really properly explain without major spoilers and, even though you don’t even need to completely get through the second pov to figure out what is going on really, figuring out the final details that connect it all together are the only thing that keeps you wanting to get to the end. At least it was that way for me. Said details were not a surprise, more like the extra bit of flavor to tie it all together better. And even then, some small plot holes remained imo. So yeah, I didn’t hate this book, nor did I dislike it. I was merely hoping for a bigger final oompf after all the buildup, while also not expecting that level of themes that were a bit too close to current social discourse for comfort. Which hey, it is also a valid goal if the author was trying to render it this way, even if it wasn’t to my liking at this time.
Until next time,