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Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield - Review

Monday, October 5, 2020

Where did I get it? I bought it a few weeks ago. I saw Kathryn talk about the book in one of the YALC at Home panels, and thought it sounded interesting, so bought it on eBay I think. 

What's it about? Ava is sent an invitation to attend some kind of gathering at a pier near her house which has been abandoned for years. The place burnt down and is now left alone by the locals, full of rumours about what happened there. Ava's invitation is basically blackmail - there's a photo on the front about a secret she has, and she doesn't know who else knows that secret. 

When she turns up, there are nine other teens there. One, Jolie, is her best friend, although the two of them have been growing apart recently and there's a lot of resentment between them. Another, Clem, is a really popular boy at school but he and Ava have been working together on a project with her photography and his music. They kind of had a thing, but it's fallen apart and Ava isn't too pleased to see him. Among the other teens are a posh boy called Teddy, an ice queen called Esme, and a boy called Noah who kind of mysteriously disappeared a year ago and hasn't been seen since. 

The pier appears to not be abandoned - there's lights and music and in every reflection there is a man. The old owner of the pier, Baldo, was a magician, and his assistant, Whispers, is the man who appears in the reflections. He can also get into people's heads, and he suggests that each of the teens kill the others in order to protect their secrets. 

Now, I will say a couple of things. Firstly, in reading some reviews of this book, I saw that a few people didn't realise it was in the horror genre and thought there would be some physical explanation for the supernatural happenings. That's an easy mistake to make and I have to say I veered towards wondering that a few times - I hoped someone would be behind it and there would be a rational explanation. As it was, it is pure horror, and if you read that you should know that.

Secondly I felt like there were parts that were written really well, that were genuinely terrifying and which spooked me. There's a great bit with some mirrors that I really liked. But there's lots of bits which are probably supposed to be scary but which just turn out confusing. For instance, as Ava is a photographer, she keeps taking photos. As time goes on, it becomes evident that time is behaving strangely, and there's photos on the camera that Ava doesn't remember taking. Tha's really scary! I love that! But there's no resolution to it, it's baffling as to why it happens, and as a reader it left me unsatisfied. I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. I think the premise is great but there was a lot going on and too much left unfinished. It took me a week to read this which is unbelievable for me, but it just wasn't gripping me. 

I also thought some of the secrets the teens were being blackmailed with were ridiculous. A few made sense but at least one left a bad taste in my mouth, too 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yeah, although it's not really a focus

Are any main characters people of colour? I don't think so 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I think there's some mental health stuff going on with at least a couple, which could have been expanded upon and I'm sad it wasn't. 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? They're mentioned, and used, but again this was kind of said in passing and not unpacked enough for me. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, and actual deaths, some of which are graphic. 

Are there swear words? No I don't think so

What criticisms do I have? I think I've been quite critical and I'm sad about it because I wanted to really like this book 

Would I recommend the book? Honestly, no 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I had such high hopes for it! 


What do I think of the cover? I like it, I think it's eyecatching. I will say also that I don't quite understand the title. Good girls don't seem to really.... die first? I was expecting the title to link in a bit more. 


What other books is it like? I don't know any 

How many stars? Three out of five. I will give the author another go, though! But this one just didn't hit it for me. 

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