I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters today. This is a fantastic supernatural thriller that is perfect for those long, cold winter nights.
Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face…
In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real – and she could prove it.
That belief got Becca killed.
It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night – that Becca was right, and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.
The night Heather killed her.
Now, someone else knows what she did… and they’re determined to make Heather pay.
The Dead Girls Club is told in alternating “then” and “now” chapters. The then chapters are set in 1991, and introduce the reader to four young girls – 12/13 years old – who have developed an interest in true crime, serial killers, and the supernatural. Heather, Becca, Gia, and Rachel form the Dead Girls Club on the basis that:
most of the time, it was men who killed and girls who got killed
I felt a little nostalgic reading The Dead Girls Club. I loved reading about the shenanigans of these young girls, and while I’m slightly younger and grew up on the other side of the pond, their childhood felt familiar to me. Walters has perfectly captured what it was to be a child in the early nineties, and the nature of friendship between young girls – the silliness, the seriousness, and the heartache when they inevitably fall out with each other. At that age, I was interested in the macabre – horror stories, the supernatural, and unexplained phenomena were a constant source of fascination, and it’s easy to see how they would get caught up in the story of the Red Lady.
Four girls with a penchant for the macabre.
These chapters gradually reveal how Becca – their ringleader – becomes increasingly obsessed with the story of the Red Lady, and how she insists on pursuing the story and the ritual to summon her. While it seems like a childish obsession at first, the reader slowly begins to understand Becca’s motivation, and why she continues despite the obvious reluctance of her friends, even when she and Heather fall out over it. Becca’s tale is not a happy one, and while her friends are too young to really understand what is going on, it’s all too apparent to the reader. The outcome of the then chapters is revealed early on in the novel (and indeed in the blurb), and while it might seem like something of a spoiler, the circumstances around these events aren’t clear – as ever, the how and why are only revealed as the novel progresses. The mystery of the Red Lady is drawn out brilliantly, and throughout I questioned whether this was a made-up story that got out of hand or if there was something more sinister at work.
The present-day storyline focusses on Heather who has grown up and moved on, losing contact with her childhood friends. It comes as a shock when she receives a necklace through the post – a necklace that she hasn’t seen since the night that Becca died. It’s clear that someone has questions about that night, and as Heather begins to receive more reminders of her past, she becomes increasingly paranoid. Who is tormenting her, and why now? Walters perfectly portrays a woman who is becoming increasingly unhinged as everyone around her comes under suspicion, affecting both her work and personal life. Heather goes to some extreme lengths to uncover her tormentor, and I wondered just how far she was prepared to go. I liked adult Heather, despite the question of what had happened when she was young, and I wanted to believe that she had misremembered those events. I felt a huge amount of sympathy for her as events began to escalate, despite her increasingly worrying behaviour.
The Dead Girls Club is a fantastic supernatural thriller. I loved the story of the Red Lady that Walters has created within the novel. The mystery of Heather’s tormentor is also brilliantly done, and the conclusion was unexpected yet deeply satisfying. Recommended for those who like their thrillers with a hint of the supernatural.
The Dead Girls Club is published by Crooked Lane Books, and will be released on 10 December 2019. Many thanks to Melissa Rechter and the publisher for the early review copy, and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
Make sure you check out the other bloggers on the tour: