A girl the rest of the world believes to have been born to be murdered struggles against her fate.
Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy
From childhood Bryony is the girl everyone yearns–and fears–to love. Her ethereal beauty and bearing mark her as different. Doomed. Only for the longest time, it’s the people around her, those SHE loves, who get picked off in shocking and creative ways. Even the ones who survive, who don’t kill themselves or get snatched by serial killers, are fundamentally changed by their contact with the Star Girl. She makes them better people–draws out the honor and compassion they’ve either buried in response to the harsh realities of their lives or never knew they had.
Now, Yardley is too good a writer not to use these transformations to wreak havoc. Being better doesn’t necessarily charm the lives of these individuals. In fact, several of them end up far worse off. In this life, anyway. There’s always the sense that they’ve gained something bigger, something that overflows the limited container of their mortal selves.
Yardley has a fun, highly stylized voice that lends itself to egregious authorial intrusion and Gothic melodrama. Imagine a Tim Burton nightmare…only in vivid technicolor. Despite the playful tongue-in-cheek, the emotional tenor of this book is strong. Life in Bryony’s world is amusing, sure, but it’s also permeated by loss. The things most of us take for granted–family, friendship, first love–are a leap of faith, an act of bravery.
Bryony, Eddie, Rikki-Tikki…even Peter-the serial-killer… are all sharply drawn and fully realized characters who alternate between shaping fate and being shaped by it. And Yardley’s plotting works them hard. Every time I thought I knew what would happen next, there came a completely unexpected twist. Every time I thought, “HA! Here’s the climax” the tension ratcheted up even more. Until, by the end, even the desert landscape is an active participant in the resolution of Bryony’s drama.
In the end, PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS leaves readers with one important (if unstated) question: Okay…Bryony IS born to die. But aren’t we all? Isn’t the point then to live as fully as we can for as long as we have?
This book doesn’t just get five stars from me…it also gets a permanent place on my Keeper Shelf.