Sawkill Girls – Book Review
I was originally gifted an advanced reader copy of Sawkill Girls from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As I have changed my review style since last year, I decided to rework my original review as I think it is a great October read! I must admit that I am not usually a horror reader but I was excited by the premise and fantasy aspects of Sawkill Girls. The novel had a huge social media buzz surrounding its release and was a nominee for the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult it 2019.
Sawkill Girls Review
Sawkill Girls is an extremely atmospheric YA horror novel, set on the isolated island of Sawkill Rock. For decades girls have been disappearing but their bodies have never been found; their cases have never been solved. According to local legend there is a monster but could the legend be true? Or is there a more logical explanation for the disappearances? It takes new arrivals to Sawkill Rock to begin to unearth answers. Will they solve the mystery before it is too late…
I like that Sawkill Girls is told from multiple points of view with the main characters being Marion, Zoey and Val.
The latest arrival to Sawkill Rock is Marion, along with her sister and mother. After a family tragedy they move with the promise of a job for Marion’s mother and with hope for a fresh start. Marion is what you would call an ‘average’ girl. There is nothing particularly distinct about her and she feels like a plain Jane, especially when she compares herself to her sister. Marion is definitely kind, loyal and dependable.
Zoey is my favourite character and narrator. She is African-American, asexual and very sassy! Zoey is determined to get to the bottom of the Sawkill mystery disappearances.
Val is the ‘queen bee’ of Sawkill Rock and is a really interesting character! Arguably, she is a morally grey character so I can imagine her being a favourite for people. Personally, I was rooting for her one minute and then hating her the next. Her part in the story is really good but I won’t say any more for now!
Themes and Issues
Sawkill Girls has a strong feminist theme throughout the book. There were parts of this I enjoyed, such as the strong female characters. Other parts were a little bit too on the nose for me and detracted from the novel.
There is both queer and asexual representation in the book. The asexual representation is, in my opinion, well done. I am always happy to see queer representation and in this case the relationship is extremely complex. I found it to be very difficult, not due to the representation of sexuality but because in context of the whole book I do not in any way think that the two characters involved would get together.
Plot, Style & World Building
I love Claire Legrand’s lyrical writing style in Sawkill Girls as well as her marvellous world building. The novel has a very creepy vibe to it and the atmosphere plays a big part in drawing the reader in to the story. The multiple narrators really help to build a wider picture of the world these girls are in and the individual horrors they face. They have all suffered from different kinds of loss, which shapes their individual narratives.
Although I enjoyed some aspects of the book very much, there were a few sticking points for me that I really didn’t. The first being the relationship that I mentioned previously, which didn’t work for me. The second was how the supernatural elements culminated, which took the focus away from Sawkill Rock. I don’t want to say too much because of spoilers but I think that the supernatural element went too far for my taste. I also feel that it played too much in to the trope of ‘the chosen one(s)’. This isn’t a big part of the novel though!
Sawkill Girls is an enjoyable read with many great aspects. The world building and continuously creepy atmosphere are wonderful. I didn’t find the plot predictable and there are some good twists! Overall, I am pleased that I had the opportunity to read this book but won’t be picking it up again for a while. If you enjoy YA supernatural horror then Sawkill Girls is definitely worth a read. It also makes a great October read!
Have you read Sawkill Girls? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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