Monday, February 2, 2015

Women in Horror: Pretty Little Dead Girls

Bryony Adams is destined to die. Everyone who sees her or meets her knows of her horrible fate and expects it at any moment. Bryony knows her fate and accepts it at first. When she survives to her teenage years, surrounded but untouched by death, she goes out into the world to experience a great love before she dies. A small circle of loyal friends develops around her over the years and she does finally find her great love, but is it enough for her? Should she still accept her tragic fate without complaint? What would happen if she fought against it?

Bryony, named after a deadly but beautiful flower, is somehow destined to die. She and everyone who comes into contact with her knows she will die young and violently. Despite her dark fate, she exudes positivity and becomes a beacon of hope to some. Many would become depressed or angry or simply accept their fate, but Bryony decides to not let her fate define her and to make a life for herself. Bryony could have easily been a one dimensional Mary Sue character, but Mercedes Yardley infuses her with life and a magnetic quality that draws characters in the book to her as well. I rooted for Bryony from page one because who says she needs to die? I did get a little annoyed when she just wanted to accept her fate, but she changed her mind later and really fought for what she wanted. I got progressively angrier when other characters would look at her, note her fate, and then kind of shrug their shoulders and go on with their lives. I read this to be a commentary of our society when the murder of young girls and women is so pedestrian that it barely warrants notice anymore.

I love the way Pretty Little Dead Girls is written. Our unnamed narrator tells the story in the third person mostly from Bryony's point of view, but we get snippets of other character's back stories and inner thoughts. I like these little glimpses into other characters because it fleshes out the world and gives insight into the minor characters. The narrator also acknowledges the reader and plays upon our expectations, our thoughts, and even flatters us a little. The language is at times simplistic, like a fairy tale, but at other times paints beautiful images without being too flowery or distractingly descriptive. Mercedes Yardley knows how to turn a phrase and keep the various threads of the story in a cohesive whole.

I enjoyed Pretty Little Dead Girls and I would definitely read other books by Mercedes Yardley. In the novel, everyone made a huge deal about Bryony's numbered days, but everyone's days are numbered. Everyone was born to die, not just those who die violently or young. This book shoves that fate in our faces and tells us to make the best of the time we have in a darkly whimsical way.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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