Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

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Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Em Richardson
Reviewed by Em Richardson
Summary: A stellar mystery novel, with 'coming of age' elements that make it a great read for older teens.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: November 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing Company
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1925355291

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In Ballad for a Mad Girl, Grace becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of Hannah Holt, a local girl who disappeared twenty-three years ago, after becoming convinced she has encountered Hannah's ghost. The more she investigates, the more she is convinced Hannah's case is in some way linked to her own Mother's death, a former classmate of Hannah's who died in a strange accident two years ago.

I loved the way Wakefield managed to tie all of her various plots together at the novel's conclusion: Grace's mental health issues, her mother's death, and Hannah's disappearance, all ultimately correspond with one another. She could easily have left plot holes whilst juggling the numerous storylines but manages to tie them all together very well, in a way that is more than mere coincidence or a tenuous connection. The book explores our continuing fascination with conspiracy theories, but in a way that makes readers see why an old mystery can have an impact on those who are still living, as Grace becomes convinced her Mother's death is in some way linked to Hannah's disappearance.

My one complaint was that, whilst I was glad we got a definitive answer about what happened to Hannah, I felt the conclusion of her story was a little anticlimactic. I was disappointed with both what had actually happened to her, and how the issue was dealt with, as I felt the 'big reveal' didn't really seem to have any effects or repercussions on the characters in the present day.

On a more positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed the horror aspects of the novel, and the way readers were constantly left guessing whether the experiences Grace recounted were real. Wakefield created an unnerving atmosphere, maintaining a sense that some dark force is constantly lurking just out of Grace's reach. Whether she really is being haunted, or whether she has simply become so obsessed with solving Hannah's mystery that she feels her presence everywhere, is for individual readers to decide. I felt this ambiguity added another air of unnerving mystery to the novel, keeping readers engaged.

Ballad for a Mad Girl is an entertaining foray into several genres, featuring elements of both horror and mystery. This, and the fact it explores Grace's relationship with her friends in a way not dissimilar to a coming of age story, makes it a stellar read for older teens. However, I do wish the ending had been less of an anti-climax.

Anyone who enjoys this book might also like SweetFreak by Sophie McKenzie as, although it is aimed at younger teens, the novel features a similar element of mystery. There's also Fish in the Sky by Fridrik Erlings. Adults might appreciate When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord.

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Buy Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield at


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