Review - The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 1 February 2012
Genre: Mystery
My Copy: Library

On a fateful summer morning in 1986, two eleven-year-old girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, they will both be charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young female tourists in a seaside vacation town when her investigation leads her to interview carnival cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day so many years ago. Now with new, vastly different lives—and unknowing families to protect—will they really be able to keep their wicked secret hidden?

The story follows the lives of two 11-year-old girls who are accused and convicted of brutally murdering a 4-year-old girl. Now older and with new names, Kirsty and Amber meet again by chance due to a series of murders at the carnival where Amber works. Amber started out in a privileged family, and now works nights cleaning the carnival. Kirsty started out in a poor family, and now is the breadwinner of her own picture perfect family - husband, daughter, and son. As more women are murdered, suspects begin to emerge, and Kirsty and Amber's lives and the lies they've built them on become more complicated and harder to maintain.

This book was incredibly dark. The reader shouldn't expect a happy ending to this book. All it takes is one small event to change your life forever and irrevocably. There's a theme through the book about whether or not someone can be born evil; however, I don't believe this is the main theme of the book. I think the main theme is more the perception of evil versus innocence by society. Society needs someone to be evil when horrible events take place. Sometimes that assumption of guilt is wrongly placed, and when it is, no one wins. It makes you question the justice system and society biases. Two young girls make a number of mistakes one day, and their lives are destroyed and placed on new paths. 

There were almost too many story lines and plots in the book. Ultimately, it all kind of came together, but there are multiple stories really being told here. The book is told from the perspective of several different characters, mostly Kirsty and Amber, but also Martin, Jackie, Blessed, Jim, and Vic. It can be confusing when it switches without anymore warning than a page break, and sometimes it takes a bit of reading to figure out whose thoughts you're reading now which breaks up the pacing of the story. Amber was a good, well rounded out character; however, Kirsty seemed a little flat to me. There were questions about her that I still had at the end of the book. Overall I liked some of the book, but I didn't love it. Whether or not I would recommend it to someone else would really depend on the person and what types of books they were interested in. It was a dark mystery, but not an edge-of-your-seat mystery. 

First Line:
There's a blanket, but from the aroma that rises from it's folds, she guesses it's never been washed.

The families always think the pain will go away if the killer is caught; that they'll get some kind of closure. Like drowning sailors, they grasp at any straw of hope, anything that suggests that they won't be feeling like this for ever. Kirsty's seen them so often now, struggling to get words out, propping each other up on tottering legs. Knows that the weeping never ends, not really.

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 4 stars
Pacing: 3 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Ending: 4 stars
Recommend: Depends on the reader


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