Author: Claire Legrand
Publication date: October 2, 2018
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
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.
This is one of those books where I know what I want to say but I can’t make the words come out, so I’m going to try my best here.
This is a story about girls and friendship, love, anger, sadness, darkness and danger.
Sawkill is an Island that isn’t safe for young women. Girls have gone missing for decades without a trace and no one really has an explanation. When Zoey’s best friend Thora goes missing she’s determined to figure out whats happening. Thora was obsessed with the dark and paranormal and when Zoey starts digging she comes across and old legend about The Collector. The Collector kills and feeds off young women to gain strength so he can be free of the chains binding him to the form he’s in. Zoey is convinced that this is whats going on and that the Mortimer’s (Val) are involved and the key to the girls disappearances.
The story is told from three points of view with alternating chapters from Marion, Zoey and Val. Marion is a bi plus sized girl who is strong headed, a rock, loving, brave, she see’s the good in people and just wants to be loved. She’s had so much loss and grief in her life that she’s spent her time taking care of others and hasn’t had time to care for herself. Zoey is black, asexual, shes stubborn, determined, feisty and a force to be reckoned with. Then there’s Val who is the Queen Bee, she’s the golden girl, that’s how people see her but she’s actually broken inside, hurting, angry, strong, has this darkness that follows her and she’s queer, her sexuality isn’t specified but she has relationships with men and women. My favourite character was Val she was the least annoying to me and the one I could most easily connect to, her story was the darkest and I was drawn to her.
Sawkill Girls is a very feminist story which Claire has woven into every page, especially from Zoey and Val’s POVs. The three girls must come together and find away to defeat the evil plaguing the island, they don’t want anyone else to die and will do whatever it takes to stop it. These girls are powerful, strong, resilient, determined and as long as they have each other they can do anything. They won’t let men determine their fate or any other woman’s.
This story is heavily based on grief, loss and trauma. All three characters have dealt with one of more of these and that really shapes them into the charters they are. The story shows the different ways people grieve and deal with loss and I think that’s so wonderful and I’d like to see more of that in YA.
The overall plot of the story I really enjoyed, the beginning was more magical and mystical feeling while the second half of the book was very dark. The author did a great job painting a picture so I could visualize the story but I found it lacked atmosphere. For a story to be really creepy for me I like the atmosphere of the book to be dark and haunting and I didn’t feel that way while reading Sawkill Girls. The pacing was a bit slow in some areas and I found myself wanting to skip ahead, these were mostly during Marion and Zoey’s chapters.
So why wasn’t this a star read for me? I really didn’t like how the story ended, for such a dark story so much more could have been done for the ending and I was just disappointed with it. The dark and creepy atmosphere of the book just wasn’t there for me. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Zoey and Marion, I found both of the slightly annoying, at times irrational and unlikable.
Overall I would definitely recommend this story, its dark and creepy, the perfect read for around Halloween. Its also full of great representation with POC and LGBT+ characters, its feminist and shows such love for women.