I found the opening of The Red Girl to be a bit choppy, in that I had difficulty ‘seeing’ and identifying the main characters. I find this happens fairly regularly to me when reading an e-book with multiple characters. If I’d been reading a paper book I would have flipped back whenever I got a little confused, but it’s so much harder to do that with an e-book. I had to work a little harder than I’d like to keep all the characters clear in my head so that I could focus on the story, but once I had that part down the story took off into a nightmarish tale of a group of friends seeking to solve the mystery of a friend’s suicide. The friend has returned from beyond the grave…and she has good reason to do so.
The writing is tight and the various viewpoints are handled well. The dark and dangerous world the group of friends descend into is confusing and terrifying and, to me, oddly reminiscent of your typical British run-down and neglected housing estate, with terrible things happening behind closed doors after dark. The group of friends has to try and solve the mystery of their friend’s return. What does she want? Why has she come back? What do they have to do in order to get back to their lives? They will find their answers. But will they survive? Without spoilers, I will warn you that Walker doesn’t pull his punches. No character is safe from the evil that surrounds them.
I really enjoyed the pacing of the story and the regularity with which I was forced to read faster and faster, hungry to know what happened next. The story ended with one of my favorite things in horror literature: the twist in the tale that I did not see coming. I thought I knew how the story was going to end. I was wrong and I do so love to be surprised!
Walker has penned a very promising debut. The talent I see in his short stories holds up in the longer form. I look forward to his next book.