Childhood ghosts come knocking in 'The Dead Girls Club'

"The Dead Girls Club" by Damien Angelica Walters.

“The Dead Girls Club” by Damien Angelica Walters.

Penguin Randomhouse / Contributed photo /

“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.” — Margaret Atwood

Children by design are curious and fearless creatures. Their innocence allows them to believe in magic and tales that they will later outgrow as they transition into adulthood. However, some stories, some spooky tales stay with us, lurking in the dark corners of our psyche. Our latest read takes us to a Maryland suburb where childhood’s nightmares come back to haunt a woman 30 years later.

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

Heather is a child psychologist that specializes in working with traumatized teenage girls. She enjoys her work and is happily married. Everything in her life is completely normal until one day she receives half of a friendship necklace, the half that she last saw on the corpse of her childhood best friend, Becca. Suddenly the past 30 years are wiped away and Heather is forced to confront the memories from the summer Becca died and the gruesome tales of the Red Lady.

Heather killed her best friend and now the Red Lady has come to seek revenge. As Heather tries to deal with the strange packages that keep arriving at her office, she learns that Becca’s mother who went to jail for her murder has been released from prison. Now, Heather has to figure out who is trying to drive her crazy, Becca’s mother or the Red Lady?

Damien Angelica Walters’ writing stylistically has the potential to irritate some readers, but the plot itself will keep them turning the pages. The twists and turns this narrative takes are not only unexpected, but mind-blowing until the final page. Her exploration of childhood trauma makes “The Dead Girls Club” a fascinating read.

From the book jacket

In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real — and she could prove it.

That belief got Becca killed.

It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night — that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.

The night Heather killed her.

Now, someone else knows what she did … and they’re determined to make Heather pay.

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy the plot twists in “The Dead Girls Club” might also enjoy the mind bending twists in Gillian Flynn’s “Dark Places.” A young woman is paid by a group of murder enthusiasts to dig into the details surrounding the murder of her mother and sisters.