The Red Girl
E-book, 289 pages
Review by Elizabeth Reuter
The Red Girl is a story of old friends that once included a girl named Geri, until she committed suicide. We open with the living part of the group seeing the ghost of Geri and panicking. I had to work that out as I went along, however, because early chapters are confusing and rushed with messy sentences and grammar. For example, on page 16: The laughter felt as if it had never existed. Wow, I didn’t know my laughter had feelings. I’ll have to tell jokes more carefully. Or on page 32, one character begins …breathing as quietly as his panting breath would allow.
Adding to the confusion, dozens of names are dropped, none of which stands out in any way. I know one of our protagonists is fat and two others are married, but that’s as much as I could figure out, and that was after going over early chapters a couple times.
The narrative slows and things get clearer thirty pages in, so that’s where I began enjoying myself. I never did learn to tell the characters apart, and think author Luke Walker would have done well to spend a page or two on character scenes and/or description. Still, the story grows creative once our heroes fall into a shadow-world full of monsters. They decide to find Geri, whose ghost, they assume, pulled them into the darkness. But it seems Geri’s current undead state has a lot to do with the life she lived. To find what drove her to suicide, the group must investigate the perverted shadow-world, dodging monsters living and dead to search for who Geri was…and what she’s become.
It’s exciting, with some cool surprises along the journey. Unfortunately, we then get to the final showdown involving a lot of pronoun confusion and screaming. (Page 242: the word “scream[ing]” is used seven times and sentences like His hand shot out from under his leg and the penknife he’d palmed slammed deep into his eye confused me during a fight with two men. Which man stabbed which? Who was palming a penknife? Whose hand came from whose leg?
Overall, Red Girl reads like a first draft. It has potential, interesting scenes, and great ideas, but needed a few revisions before going to print. I hope Walker’s next book allows his cool and scary horror scenes to shine as they should.