The small town of Grace, Alabama might be highly named, but it’s a little short on its follow-through. Populated by rednecks, people haunted by regrets, and economic depression, the town is full of hurting people shadowed by darkness. Then bright spot Summer Ryan goes missing, and the entire town fears she’s been taken by The Bird, believed responsible for the disappearances of five other local, church-going good girls.
But as Raine Ryan—Summer’s twin sister—investigates her sister’s disappearance, she discovers that Summer wasn’t quite the good girl everyone thought. With the help of Noah, a local boy who adores Raine, she starts asking questions, and soon the darkness that’s been hidden in Grace is visible to the whole world.
All the Wicked Girls shows a good picture of life in a small Southern town: the town busybodies who want to know everyone else’s business, the good ol’ boys who think they know more than the guys in charge, the teenagers yearning to get out of town. In fact, the Southern gothic feel of the novel is so spot-on, that I was surprised to learn the author is English, not Southern. The setting is fantastically well-done.
I love how the story is told in alternating points of view, including the missing Summer telling of thing that happened before. Raine is a force of nature, and Noah is endearing as he struggles with his health issues as well as the loss of his father. There’s a lot of twists in this novel, and the suspense will keep the reader gripping the pages to find out what’s really going on.
Chris Whitaker was born in London and worked as a financial trader. All the Wicked Girls is his newest novel.
(Galley provided by Zaffre in exchange for an honest review.)