All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

Dark. Mind-blowing. Disturbing.

In the small town of Grace, nothing out of the ordinary happens. But there was that one year five church girls from Briar went missing. Six months later, Summer’s is nowhere to be found. A note left suggests she ran off. But Raine, her twin sister, knows it the Bird monster’s work. She sets on her own to find her sister and to solve the mystery that has bewildered the town police. And Raine learns there is more than meets the eye with Summer.

The novel, alternating between the voice of Raine in the present and Summer in the past is darkly atmospheric and ominous. The setting is a small town, deeply religious, and decompensating after the Mill shut down. The children are on their own; the law neglected by the police and its inhabitants. This statement by Raine’s friend Noah summarizes the town- “Grace. It’s a funny kinda town. People go to church every Sunday, reeking of booze and the sins of the weekend. They pray it away then do it again, same each and every.” The town of Grace has created its own rules to survive the desolation.

The characters are rich, layered and full of history. There are many characters to keep track of, but each has a story to be told. Raine is a rebel, drinking, smoking and always in trouble. She has met the hook a few times. Summer is a child prodigy, with musical skills and a passion for books. The fifteen-year-old twins could not be any more different. And yet they have a love that is unbreakable. “They held hands, Even now, if they were sad or mad or happy, they held hands.” As the chapters unfold, we discover the events leading up to Summer’s fate. Raine’s relentless hunt to find her sister is tense and heartbreaking.

The language of the small town is challenging takes a couple of chapters to understand, but it adds depth to character and setting. The southern drawl is deep south, and broken and creates realism. The storyline is well plotted and played and will leave you feeling unsettled. Not necessarily for the crime story, but for the love and tragedy between two sisters.

All the Wicked Girls, is a dark and disturbing novel and not for the faint heart. The writing is phenomenal! It is confusing at the start, but continue reading, as you will be drawn into the darkest elements of Briar County.

Thank you, NetGalley, Bonnier Zaffre, and the author for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.



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