Raine sometimes complains that nothing exciting is ever gonna happen in Grace again. Daddy told her careful what you wish for.
Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.
Then Summer goes missing.
Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.
But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye…
I read Chris Whitaker’s debut novel, Tall Oaks, earlier this year. You can read my review here . I couldn’t praise it highly enough. But now I see that Tall Oaks was just the support act to All The Wicked Girls. I had wondered where Chris Whitaker could go with his next novel – how could he possibly improve? The result is incredible.
The writing is sublime. As I have a proof copy I’m not allowed to quote but oh, how I wish I could! (The first two sentences of chapter 3 are just divine). The American South inflection is there throughout, constant and true. The lyrics ‘Killing me softly with his words’ has taken on a whole new meaning for me with this story. Without humour to fall back on, Chris Whitaker’s writing is laid bare and is not found wanting. Utterly beautiful.
The characterisation in Tall Oaks was fabulous but Whitaker takes it to a whole new level with All The Wicked Girls. In the end it was more about the characters for me than the plot (and it’s normally the opposite). I’m always impressed by anyone who writes with multiple viewpoints but to do so with such clarity for each character is remarkable.
The setting of Grace, a small town in Alabama, with a giant storm cloud that blacks out the sun, added to the intensity of the storyline and the characters. And when all those three ingredients are pretty darn perfect, then you have an awesome book with hidden depths.
So how much did I love this book? I actually slowed down my reading. Normally when a book grabs me, I race through it. Not this time. This was a novel that I chose to savour, like a good wine. By the end, I was undone and I’m ruined for the next book I read. It’s no good. I have to use ‘the word’, the one that I so rarely use and was only employed once last year – extraordinary.
Brave and fierce, Chris. Brave and fierce.
I’d like to thank Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for my proof copy.
All The Wicked Girls will be published on 24th August. To find out more about Chris and to pre order, click here