THE TENTH GIRL
Written by Sara Faring
Published by Imprint, September 24th, 2019
My star rating – 3 stars
At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.
Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.
One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life. Find it on Goodreads
I had such high hopes for this book! A psychological thriller with paranormal elements, set in an isolated setting on an island in Central America, sprinkled with historical folklore….. it sounded like this book was made for me! Sadly though, I didn’t connect with this book at all. I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but it was just a meh experience. Technically, there was nothing wrong with this book. It had everything that was needed. There was character development, plot movement, atmosphere, plot twists, and an unexpected ending. But there was something about it that kept my emotions at arms length.
Before I get further into my thoughts, I will mention some trigger warnings. There is abuse (physical, mental, sexual), suicide and foul language.
My favourite part of the whole book was the atmosphere. It was phenomenal! This all takes place on an island off the coast of Buenos Aires. There’s water, fog, mountains, glaciers…. and then there’s the house. This house is massive and has a very dark history. The decor was very outdated and the house itself felt stark, cold, and dark. The house was turned into a finishing school many years ago where the wealthiest of families sent their girls to learn. One year, a deadly virus overtook the occupants of the house and the school closed. Now, years later, the school has reopened and things start to happen yet again.
This was told from two perspectives. Mavi, a young girl trying to escape her tortured past, accepts a teaching position as their new english teacher and Angel, who is a spirit that finds herself in a mysterious house. Their perspectives are both happening at the same time. We see situations through two different points of view and it was both confusing and interesting. I think I struggled with it in the beginning (because there was so much mystery as to who Angel was and why she was there) but then grew to love the timeline. I think that I liked Mavi’s perspective a little more though.
The characters as a whole though…. I found a little one dimensional….. which is totally weird! Like I said in the beginning, this was technically done well. There was a load of character development! Throughout the book the characters would reflect on their past lives and the events that shaped them. Normally that’s enough to make me understand or relate to a character. For some reason it didn’t work here. I will say though – I loved that they were all tortured. Every single one of the characters had a difficult life. It was hard to read about some of the things these characters went through but they found a way to make those horrific events bring them closer. They shared common ground and understanding. No one lied to each other and said that everything would be ok. They knew it was crappy and they weren’t alone and were able to comfort each other.
I think that the biggest problem I had with this book was the pacing. It honestly could have been condensed by 200 pages and still would have been the same. My mind was constantly wandering and I was really bored in spots. Part of that had to do with the fact that we had two different perspectives and we were sometimes covering the same plot point over again but through a different set of eyes. If this was condensed I think I would have enjoyed it so much more!
Before I even started reading this book, I noticed a few people on Goodreads talking about the ending and how polarizing it was. It seemed that people either loved it or hated it. Having finished the book – it’s most definitely polarizing! It was a very unique ending that I can respect and appreciate. It made me stop and look back at what I had just read in a totally different light. I love when books made me stop and reflect! Even though I can understand and appreciate the ending, I still don’t think that it worked for me. I get it – and it’s really creative and unique! But it just didn’t suit me.
I realize that I had a lot of negative things to say. Though it wasn’t my favourite book of the year, I still enjoyed it! I think I’ll still check out books from this author – I just hope they’re shorter…
Thank you so much to Raincoast Books Canada and Imprint for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are uninfluenced.
Until next time, happy reading!