Walters, Sara. Missing Dead Girls. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Fire, 2023.
ISBN-13: 978-1728234137 | $10.99 USD | 256 pages | YA Thriller
– A sapphic psychological, fast-paced thriller –
What is friendship without a few secrets?
It wasn’t Tillie’s choice to leave Philadelphia. But after everything that happened junior year, her mom insisted the quiet suburb of Willow Creek was the perfect place to get a fresh start, to put the trauma and rumors behind them.
Madison Frank is the perfect distraction. Beautiful, fun, and from the wealthy side of town, Madison is the kind of girl who has a pull stronger than gravity. She commands attention, even inspires obsession. And by the end of summer, Tillie’s forgotten everything—everyone—she left in Philadelphia. Almost.
Then Madison goes missing. A photo of her bloody body is texted to the whole student body…from an account with Tillie’s name on it. Tillie’s caught in a tangled web of secrets that will destroy her if they surface…and will destroy everyone she loves if they don’t.
“Claustrophobic and intriguing… a novel that will keep you hooked all the way.”—The Nerd Daily on The Violent Season
Pick up Missing Dead Girls if you’re looking for:
- A sapphic psychological, fast-paced thriller
- A suspenseful read with strong emotion
- Fiction examining friendship
- A coming of age story with a twist
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
Missing Dead Girls is the epitome of what I expect when I pick up a psychological thriller: messed up characters (but make them sapphic!), deadly secrets, and a bucketload of twists and turns. It takes the common high school tropes, like dysfunctional friendships with mean girls, and turns the dial up to 11 with delightful fashion.
Tillie is a somewhat unreliable narrator, but she’s nonetheless sympathetic, as she has been through a lot, even if her entire history isn’t exactly clear right away. As the narrative continues, we learn more about her, her past, and how that informs the toxic, codependent dynamic she has formed with the popular Madison, who has some secrets of her own.
This book is simultaneously a slow burn, yet it’s also on the shorter side. There’s a lot of setup of the dynamic between Tillie and Madison, with the last third being where the big bombshells really come into play. And even the end leaves things somewhat ambiguous, which works, given how untrustworthy these characters have been up to this point, and there not being a real satisfactory form of closure for them.
This is an exciting, nail-biting read, and one I’d recommend if you’re looking for a sapphic take on the young adult thriller genre.
Sara Walters works as advocate for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence in central Pennsylvania. Previously, she worked as a reproductive rights advocate and a college instructor. She earned her MFA in creative writing at the University of South Florida and studied children’s and young adult literature while earming her doctorate in education at the University of Tennessee. She belieces in the power of storytelling as a voice for survivors and aims to gives space to stories too often silenced.
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