Frightful Friday: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. The featured title this week is The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood:

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 30, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0143123866
  • Source: Publisher

In the summer in 1986, two eleven-year old girls meet and by the end of the day are charged with murder. Fast forward to the year 2011: Kristy Lindsay is a journalist reporting on a series of brutal murders in a small, quiet vacation town. Her investigation leads her to a carnival, the latest crime scene. There, she runs into Amber Gordon, one of the many cleaning crew that can be found once the carnival shuts down for the night. She hasn’t seen Amber in twenty-five years, the fateful summer day that changed both of their lives forever.  Kristy and Amber (known back then as Bel and Jade) have since changed their identities, now living a life with families ignorant of their past “crime.”

As Kristy tries to the bottom of these heinous crimes, she must simultaneously work to keep her deep, dark secret buried. She’s had a fortunate life; Amber unfortunately was forced to endure a path less desirable. Can she trust Amber, a woman who shares the same dark past, to help keep her secret safe?

The Wicked Girls is an incredibly dark and haunting psychological thriller. While the actual details of the decades-old crime isn’t revealed early on, readers know the basic details of the devastating crime that forever altered the lives of two young misfits. As the details of the modern day crime are revealed so are snippets of information from that fateful summer day. Despite what transpired, it is difficult not to feel sympathy for the young girls, caught in a situation that has cornered them into action, much like what is transpiring now in their adult lives. A key underlying element within this novel is social class and just how justice is handed down to those less privileged.

Full of twists and turns, the carnival setting of The Wicked Girls is quite appropriate. Marwood takes her readers on an intense ride throughout the entirety of this novel, alluding to a whole host of culpable suspects, leaving the reader incredibly shocked by the time the actual perpetrator is uncovered. Like many illusions contained within a carnival, Marwood’s slowly laid out revelations will play with one’s mind, permitting even the most deductive of readers – myself included – unsure of just which characters to trust.

I started reading The Wicked Girls in the afternoon and by the evening I had devoured it in its entirety. A gripping, moving, and thought-provoking psychological thriller, I guarantee this is a novel that will have people talking. Highly, highly recommended.

3 thoughts on “Frightful Friday: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

  1. I just read another review of this one and it sounds REALLY GOOD. If only I had a little snippet more of time!

  2. Sounds intriguing and thought-provoking. A reader can’t helped but be hooked when characters are ‘cornered into action.’ And the parallel between the past and present adds a rich dimensionality. Brings to mind Laura Lippman’s ‘Every Secret Thing’. Looking forward to reading.

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