Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Themes: Loss, Friendship, Superpowers
Audience: Young Adult
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: October 2, 2018
This book was a surprise in the best possible way. I don’t tend to read horror, and this story is undeniably horrific in places, with teenage girls being ripped apart and devoured. Add to this the fact that the plot is much darker and more overtly fantastical than I generally prefer, and you might wonder why I picked it up at all. Yet, the blurb for Sawkill Girls convinced me I had to give this novel a try, and there are so many things I found to love about it, I’m immensely glad I did.
Firstly…the prose. Beautiful, imaginative, and with a distinctiveness that encapsulates Claire Legrand’s writing, this is the kind of prose that glides over you like water while forcing you to pay attention to every syllable. It’s the kind of prose that makes me sit up and think…wow, I wish I’d written this! Nothing is overdone. There are no surplus adjectives or rambling descriptive passages. The author chooses just the right words to enable the reader to picture it all in vivid, breathtaking detail.
Secondly…the characters. Marion—steady, reliable, her yearning to be loved concealed beneath a plain exterior. Zoey—fierce, loyal, looked down upon by the wealthier inhabitants of the island. Beautiful, broken Val, who wants nothing more than to be free of her family’s curse and lead a normal life. These heroines are so completely different from one another, though each is equally strong in her own way. I felt deeply for all three girls, and really enjoyed the interplay between them.
Thirdly…the atmosphere. It takes a skilled writer not only to create an aura of menace, but to sustain it for the duration of the story, and Claire Legrand manages this brilliantly. From the opening chapters, when it becomes clear something supernatural is afoot, the richly dark language evokes a sense of eeriness and impending danger that tied my stomach in knots. I was afraid for the main characters from start to finish, and was unable to relax fully until I reached the final page.
Lastly…the romance. Actually, this novel has two romantic storylines. One involves Marion and Val, drawn to one another despite the terrible truth that renders their love impossible. The other explores Zoey’s asexuality as she attempts to reconcile the love she feels in her heart for her best friend with her aversion to the idea of sleeping with him. Both relationships are incredibly powerful and are interwoven into the main plot in such a way as to make this book utterly unputdownable.
For a novel that blends stunning prose and spine-chilling horror with poignant romance and three unforgettable heroines, Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand gets 10/10 rainbows!
About the Book
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.
About Claire Legrand
Claire Legrand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for children and teens, most notably the first two books in the Empirium Trilogy, Furyborn and Kingsbane, as well as The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, the Edgar Award-nominated Some Kind of Happiness, and Sawkill Girls, which has been nominated for both a Stoker Award and a Lambda Literary Award. She lives in central New Jersey, where she works as a librarian.