Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Publication date: 04 October 2018
Genre: Young adult horror
Page count: 464 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
Horror is a genre that I just don’t read very often. I never know where to start, what books I’ll like, and what wont scare me half to death. Sawkill Girls caught my eye way back at YALC in July because of its fantastic cover and intriguing premise. Billed as a YA horror novel filled with girl power, I was immediately interested but didn’t really know what to expect. Having finished the book, this is really one that you should try for yourself — I can see so many readers having dramatically different opinions on it. I’m not sure how helpful my review will be for others — it’s one of those books that will appeal to one’s personal tastes so strongly.
There was a lot that I loved about Sawkill Girls, but it also featured some things I didn’t care for. The moody, atmospheric writing was just fantastic. Legrand manages to create such vivid imagery of Sawkill Rock and I couldn’t get enough of her writing style. I particularly liked the way she incorporated small town American folklore into the story. The horror elements of the book were pretty light, which made it perfect for me, and it is a good option for readers like myself who don’t want a incredibly gruesome horror novel. That doesn’t mean this book isn’t scary, it definitely has its moments. There are a few scenes that really stand out for me as reminiscent of iconic horror stories like The Ring or IT that I absolutely loved.
This isn’t to say that the plot and horror elements were perfect, however. There were some things that just felt cheesy and laughable — they yanked me right out of the story. I wont go into these particular points because of spoilers, but there is a fairly major plot point that really should have been completely cut out of the book. I really hated the inclusion of these elements in the book — it was almost as though there was a horror checklist that had to be ticked off. Sawkill Girls would have been a more effective story if the plot was a little more simple.
Our three POV characters — Marion, Val, and Zoey — really dominate the story. I actually find it difficult to remember any other characters from the book, which seems like a shame because she includes such fascinating secondary characters that I would have loved to see more of. However, I really do think that this is one of those rare books that perfectly balances the POV chapters. I often find that at least one character is much weaker than the others, but this wasn’t the case in Sawkill Girls. All three of these young woman are flawed and imperfect, and even when you’re shaking your head at them they’re so compelling and complicated. I didn’t necessarily like all three of them, but I really appreciated the fact that they felt so unique and fleshed out. Of the three I think my favourite was Val. She was the most complex and interesting of the girls, which says a lot because all three are so well written. Val’s social status and family dynamic added so much to her character, and I absolutely loved reading her chapters.
I really enjoyed Sawkill Girls, but there were some aspects that just didn’t work for me. If those bits were trimmed out, this would have been one of my favourite books of the year. However, I really do think that this book is one that will either work for you or wont — I highly recommend just diving in. This was my first book by Claire Legrand and it certainly wont be my last.
Want to pick up a copy of Sawkill Girls? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):