All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

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All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: Dark, mysterious, bleak and intense. Chris Whitaker takes readers on a difficult but highly addictive read. The character development is phenomenal but by far the best element of the novel is the great quality of the writing.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: August 2017
Publisher: Zaffre
ISBN: 978-1785761522

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In the small town of Grace, fifteen-year-old Summer Ryan suddenly goes missing. A model student with exceptional musical talent and loved by all that know her, the incident rocks the entire town. It's even more terrifying set against the backdrop of recent crimes; for over the course of the year, five young church-attending girls have gone missing from all corners of Briar County. The kidnapper and murderer responsible for the disappearance of these girls is nicknamed Bird by law enforcement, and has so far evaded capture. Whilst he roams the streets, no one is safe. When Summer disappears, it's different – she leaves a note yet there is no way of knowing whether she is safe from being taken by the mysterious and terrifying Bird.

Raine is Sumer's twin sister and is the stark opposite of the rosy, talented and accomplished Summer. However, there is nothing more important to her than her sister. So in light of the deficiency of Grace's law enforcement, Raine decides to take matters into her own hands and investigates her sister's disappearance herself to either rescue or reason with her to bring her home. There is nothing she won't do for her sister and as she embarks on her investigation, she will uncover terrible truths and well kept secrets. And she may even discover the identity of the haunting murderer.

First things first, this novel is extremely dark, gritty and chilling. That's dark with a capital D by the way. If you thought you've read something dark before, think again.

All the Wicked Girls is also highly addictive. I was really surprised by just how much it gripped me from start to finish. All I can say is that Chris Whitaker is an incredibly talented writer, I don't know how he traps you but it's some sort of magic.

It is a tough read though. Set in the small, bleak town in Alabama, Whitaker covers many difficult subject matters, from poverty to addiction to physical and emotional abuse and even more in intense detail. All of the main characters within the novel deal with either one of or all of the above and therefore, as you can imagine, it's an emotional read where moments of hope and happiness are few and far between. No character is without flaw and have both conflicted ethics and questionable morals. It is of course this connection with the characters, that changes a thriller into a great thriller, and it's a credit to Whitaker's brilliant writing and well developed believable characters. It is exceptionally atmospheric and whilst reading it, I was impressed with how real Whitaker's story is and how real the town felt. I experienced the fear and tension of the main characters as if it were my own, which to put it lightly makes it a disturbing read. My advice is; prepare to get your heart broken because this book is very powerful, with a capital P.

The suspense is fantastically done: it was relentless and I had absolutely no idea how the novel was going to end, and who the mysterious killer was. I was suspicious of each and every character and on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. It's a story which you can't help thinking about and one which along with the characters stays with the reader long after reading the last page.

Many thanks to the publishers for providing the Bookbag with a copy to review.

In terms of further reading, Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a riveting story revolving around the decade-long search for a missing girl and is just as emotional as All the Wicked Girls. Alternatively Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear is an exceptional mystery told through the eyes of the police investigators and is every bit as enthralling as Chris Whitaker's newest novel. We also enjoyed A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham.

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