A Creepy and Atmospheric Read | Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

9:10 PM

It's official: Sawkill Girls makes me wish it was Autumn already. Is it Halloween yet?


Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand 
Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you're looking for a creepy, atmospheric novel to usher you into a Halloween state of mind, look no further than Sawkill Girls. Claire Legrand's prose is as deliciously bleak and dark as any of her plotlines throughout this novel. Sawkill Girls feels not unlike a fleshed out online legend or campfire story; sending chills down your spine. You can easily feel it throughout your entire body, which can be deeply unsettling in the best way possible.

If you like that feeling of your skin prickling in a subtle kind of fear, this book is for you. If you like sitting on the edge of your seat, eyes wide in curiosity, this book is for you. If you like stories of dreadful islands, monsters and missing girls, and those who choose to hunt said monster, this book is for you.

Aside from its particular brand of chills and thrills, the writing is gorgeous. It makes the tone of it seem all the more apparent with time. It truly feels like a classic horror story told amongst a group of friends late one night. Those spooky stories stuck at the back of your mind, tumbling out? That is what this feels like. I loved it because of this.

Adding in its deeply peculiar setting, cast of wonderfully diverse and compelling characters, and the relationships that they'd formed over time, you've got a fantastic horror novel. At the core of most horror stories, we see themes of family, loss, coming of age, etc explored, and Sawkill Girls is no different. I found that these little tropes made the soul of the novel stand out against its dark themes. It tackles serious topics and does so with a blunt sort of honesty.

The thing about horror--and making it work--is that it has to be more than just a 'scary' story. It has to represent something beyond fear. Every good horror story centers around something--in the case of Sawkill Girls it is grief. Grief is one of the most influential traits we face as humans and the complexities that come with it vary from person to person. Legrand explores many types of grief and many types of people in this novel, and that should be praised.

There's so much more to be felt from Sawkill Girls, than just that ominous feeling you get from the synopsis. It relies on its bold exploration of coming of age themes, engrossing us as readers with several types of relationships. Further, I found Sawkill Girls to be delightfully feminist as well which is kind of rare for YA horror. Or, horror in general.

(At least, in the novels that I've read that identify as such.)

Overall, I really enjoyed Sawkill Girls for the most part. I did have some issues with it, and I wasn't terribly keen on the ending, but nothing that is necessarily bad. Which is more of a personal preference. I thought the exploration of grief was beautifully realistic (and downright emotionally charged) and really appreciated the fact that this novel touched based on more than just horror stories.

A quick side note: because it is a horror novel, there are quite a few things that won't be for many readers. As always, it is important to take a look at trigger warnings before diving into a novel of any genre. Some important to note triggers include the tackling of trauma/loss, grief, violence and occasional 'gore', abuse, substance abuse (i.e., underage drinking) amongst other things.

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