Ho ho ho, was this an amazing book. 😮 The characters were engaging, the plot intense. Sawkill was also creepy, character driven, a bit gorey at times. Claire Legrand has written one of my favorite novels of the year in this book with three of the most interesting girls (Marion, Val, and Zoey) who are also engaging in their exploration of their agency, their identities, their loves. Who they are, who they’ve been made by others and who they make themselves before the last page turns, will be an amazing story to read.
Published: 2 October 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/Horror/LGBT+
Sawkill Girls is a frightening stand-alone contemporary teen horror novel about three girls who take on an insidious monster that preys upon young women.
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: The newbie. 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.
Rating: 5 Stars
Rep: Asexual Biracial MC, Bisexual MC, Lesbian MC
CW: animal death (not a pet), scenes that may be disturbing but especially to those with arachnophobia (spiders)/entomophobia (bugs)/mottephobia (moths specifically)/lepidopterophobia (butterflies/moths), parental abuse (physical), anti-asexual commentary, violence, blood, gore
It was interesting, the journey that Claire took me on as a reader with the characters. First impressions for Val were altered as motivations and context were introduced. Situational privilege and keen determination for Zoey built her into a strong lead that fascinated me as she contended with a dismissive town, her personality identity vs feelings for her ex, and her relationship to/with Val. Marion was an emotionally heavy character: so much pain, so much responsibility heaped upon her by death and abandonment. It was heartbreaking and numbing to witness this beginning, but witnessing her journey from this place to where she ends up was mind blowing.
Another character that was fascinating to see on the page, limited though its voice on the page was, was Sawkill itself. The multiple points of view alternated between Marion, Val, and Zoey, but there were a few from Sawkill Rock itself that offered insight into the history of the island, including the missing girls and all that that situation entails, that was a perfect offset to the human stories that were the majority.
There were scenes in this book that were, at times, difficult to read. Whether it was a scene with gore (one of the girls being witness to bodies torn apart), a horse flinging itself of a cliff, rampant misogyny, this book pulls no punches. Claire Legrand’s unflinching writing does not shy away from the rawness of these scenes and despite feeling squeamish at times, I appreciated how well crafted they were.
The way agency was handled, the various was it was talked about being taken and altered and regained, it was intense. Val and Marion and Zoey, not to mention the numerous girls of Sawkill that disappeared over the decades, lose so much and fight to take it back. The adults in this book are… *heavy sigh* These young adults are done and they prove it with their sheer them-ness: their power, their will, their minds. They fight for their friends, each other, themselves, while the adults are so ready and willing to move on.
Utterly atmospheric, impossible to put down, a bone deep chilling read, Sawkill Girls is a horror novel that achieves multiple layers of immense power for setting, character, and tone that I recommend to fans of the genre and beyond.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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