Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Roving Eye Reviews The Wicked Girls.

The Wicked Girls - Alex Marwood. 


I’m going to start this review with a word of warning (which really should be highlighted on the book jacket) and that is, if you chose to read The Wicked Girls, then make sure that all other plans are put firmly on hold, because if ever there was a case for a ‘one sitting’ novel, then you’d have to go a long way to beat this.

The Wicked Girls
Every once in a while a novel comes along that revitalises a genre. In the same way that J.K Rowling did fifteen years ago with Harry Potter and, more recently, Justin Cronin with his horror epic The Passage, Alex Marwood’s story of the death of a young child and the resulting lives of her killers, is currently doing the same for the crime genre.

In 1986 we meet Jade and Annabel, two eleven year old girls from very different walks of life and with very little in common, who are thrown together for one fateful day in which they are responsible for the death of four year old girl. Imprisoned for their crimes and rehabilitated separately, they are finally released on licence with new identities and able to begin new lives.

Skip forward to the present day and we are introduced to the rag bag cast of characters of the Funnland amusement park in the seaside town of Whitmouth. In the grips of a series of vicious attacks on young women, the town has become the focal point for the country’s media and freelance journalist Kirsty Lindsay arrives to report on the case. It is then that her life is turned upside down when a brief encounter with fairground cleaner Amber Gordon threatens to shatter a 25 year secret that both women have tried desperately to protect.

For me, the true strength of this novel comes from Marwood’s expert characterisation. Each and every one, major and minor alike, fizzes from the page jaded and trapped against the backdrop of the shabby glamour of the British seaside in recession hit Britain.  

With the secret of the two main characters being no secret to the reader, and with no real mystery to solve, this in no way detracts from the novel’s power, in fact, it heightens it. The continuing daily struggle that our protagonists face in keeping their terrible secret from family, friends and colleagues as they are unexpectedly thrown together is expertly crafted. Intersperse this with an hour-by-hour account of the happenings on the day the girls met, and you have the makings of a gripping, thought provoking and wonderfully unsettling novel.

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