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“One is not safe alone in the house at night.”
Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.
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.
Sara Faring’s debut is perhaps the most polarizing release of 2019. You either love it or hate it, and 80% of that is determined by the big twist. Seriously, every review is either praising this book and its twist or trashing them. Where do I stand? I’m in the middle.
Actually, I really enjoyed this book. It’s probably one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. I really love the gothic horror vibe of the story. I’m not a big thriller reader, but this one really impressed me. It’s creepy and dark and really keeps you guessing.
That said, I have mixed feelings about the twist. This is mainly because it totally changes the vibe of the story. Because it’s actually a really good twist. It’s impossible to predict, but the reader is able to look back and realize how it was foreshadowed. I would’ve loved the twist had it not completely changed the gothic tone of the story.
The other issue may have been a me thing, but I spent at least two thirds of the book thinking Angel was a girl. But actually he’s a dude. I think. I’m actually still not totally sure. But I’m like 97% percent sure. It doesn’t come as a detriment to the story, but it affects how the reader imagines the character. I had to change a major part of my image of Angel and I’m still not sure I have it right.
Despite a couple minor setbacks, this is actually a really great debut. It’s marketed as YA, but could just as easily be an adult novel. It has fantastic crossover appeal without resorting to overt sexual themes or graphic violence. I really appreciated that. This is definitely one of the better YA releases of the year.
I wouldn’t say the characters are overly unique, but I actually don’t mind in a story like this. They’re fleshed out forms of horror character tropes and archetypes. I couldn’t help but care for Mavi and Angel, even when they made choices I wouldn’t. I usually get annoyed at characters in movies that are similar, but here I didn’t. And that’s all due to how well Faring ties her characters to her environment and story.
As the novel takes place in Argentina, all the characters are Latinx. Granted, there is an aspect of colonizer vs. native. But all the characters are either born and raised Argentines or are direct descendants of Argentines. The latter is also the case for Faring herself, making the story Own Voices.
Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. It’s hard to predict who will like the twist and who won’t. I’ll just say this: if you have similar taste in books to me, give this one a try. You’ll probably enjoy it. It may not be a 10/10 read, but it’s an impressive debut nonetheless.
Child abuse, sexual assault, pedophilia, & mentions of violet murder/torture
Have you read The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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