Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well – long time no see! I was in a horrible reading slump throughout the month of August, combined with being away from my physical books for half the month, it’s fair to say that I did not get a whole bunch of reading done. However, I did manage to read a couple really amazing books – one of them was The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh which I was so lucky to receive an ARC copy of as part of the TBR and Beyond Book Tour this month! So today I’m bringing you my review for this super atmospheric and unnerving read, as well as a wee moodboard! I’m also one of the people starting off this book tour so I highly recommend that you check out the schedule to see what other amazing and creative posts are lined up! Enjoy!
Title: The Girls Are Never Gone
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Genre: Horror, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: The Conjuring meets Sadie when seventeen-year-old podcaster Dare takes an internship in a haunted house and finds herself in a life-or-death struggle against an evil spirit.
Dare Chase doesn’t believe in ghosts.
Privately, she’s a supernatural skeptic. But publicly, she’s keeping her doubts to herself—because she’s the voice of Attachments, her brand-new paranormal investigation podcast, and she needs her ghost-loving listeners to tune in.
That’s what brings her to Arrington Estate. Thirty years ago, teenager Atheleen Bell drowned in Arrington’s lake, and legend says her spirit haunts the estate. Dare’s more interested in the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death—circumstances that she believes point to a living culprit, not the supernatural. Still, she’s vowed to keep an open mind as she investigates, even if she’s pretty sure what she’ll find.
But Arrington is full of surprises. Good ones like Quinn, the cute daughter of the house’s new owner. And baffling ones like the threatening messages left scrawled in paint on Quinn’s walls, the ghastly face that appears behind Dare’s own in the mirror, and the unnatural current that nearly drowns their friend Holly in the lake. As Dare is drawn deeper into the mysteries of Arrington, she’ll have to rethink the boundaries of what is possible. Because if something is lurking in the lake…it might not be willing to let her go.
I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I’m a huge wimp when it comes to all things horror (much to my girlfriend’s dismay) – I absolutely hate gore and I’ve seen a grand total of two horror movies in my entire life, and I’m not joking when I say that one of them was the Daniel Radcliffe Woman in Black film… So, I’m always a bit wary going into horror novels, though admittedly I’ve enjoyed every single one I’ve read, but this book just felt like it was on a whole other level!
The book follows Dare who runs her own supernatural true-crime based podcast which is severely lacking in followers after her split with her boyfriend and leaving their joint podcast. But one day, Dare receives a comment on one of her episodes from a viewer suggesting that she check out the tragic story of Atheleen Bell who drowned in the lake at Arrington Estate – a story that is well known among the small town’s residents, though no one really knows what happens. So, staunch paranormal unbeliever Dare takes on an internship at the Estate to help renovate it to it’s former glory, and alongside Quinn – the daughter of the woman who now owns the Estate – and Holly – another intern – the three of them set out to get to the heart of Atheleen’s tragic death, but the house has other ideas up its sleeve…
Straight away when I read the synopsis, I knew I had to pick it up – not only did it sound right up my street with the whole podcast aspect, feeling a lot like Buzzfeed Unsolved, but I am also a huge sceptic when it comes to ghosts, much like Dare is. I love watching shows and reading books where houses are some sort of spooky entity where things go bump in the night because I love to try and figure out the logical reasons why – I would absolutely take those thousands of pounds to spend the night in a haunted house, I’d happily sleep the whole time! And she didn’t disappoint! I loved when Quinn (another supernatural true crime podcast lover) would voice her fears about what was going on in the house and Dare would, albeit very kindly, explain why it was really just something mundane. However, the whole time you’re reading the book you’re left with this heavy, lingering feeling that something is, in fact, not quite right.
Speaking of Dare and Quinn, I loved how much of this book was actually character driven, and didn’t focus 100% on the plot with what actually happened to Atheleen Bell. There was some really great Type 1 Diabetes rep in the book in the form of Dare who has dealt with the condition for most of her life and has an adorably dopey service dog who accompanies her to the estate. Another aspect that sold me on this book was the fact that this is a sapphic horror novel and Dare is proudly bisexual while Quinn is a lesbian and I loved to see it, especially in a YA novel! Alongside Holly who really just wanted the internship to get out of her small town that she feels stuck in, every one of the main characters felt really realistic and had whole lives outside of them being at the estate, which made the book all that more enjoyable to read and really sucked me into their story. Their friendship was also so wonderful to see and it was really heartening to see that when they did make mistakes and upset each other, there was no hesitation over apologising – their pride took a backseat to their friendship and it was such a refreshing point that we don’t see a lot in YA and I was pleasantly surprised by it.
I can’t go too much into the plot in this review as it is a very tense horror novel and I don’t, in any way, want to spoil it for you, but I would like to talk a bit about how fantastic Sarah Glenn Marsh’s worldbuilding and atmospheric writing is. I loved the whole small town where everyone knows each other’s secrets vibe that this book had, and something about that sort of setting just screams autumn read to me, so this is the perfect time to pick this book up. Paired with the heavy, looming, nightmarish feel that this book had, alongside some slightly gory scenes, this book really had me shaken, and I stupidly read the book late at night before going to bed and had to stop and watch silly videos for about half an hour after I put the book down before I felt comfortable enough to go to sleep! My only criticism of the book is the ending, but not in the way you might be thinking – we do get a really satisfying end to Atheleen’s mystery and everything surrounding the house, but I wish we’d gotten more closure in the way of Dare, Quinn and Holly’s lives – particularly Holly – because they played a huge role in my enjoyment of the book, and I just felt a little let down that it was wrapped up so simply.
Overall, this was the perfect read for this time of year, and with Halloween on the horizon this is definitely a book that you must pick up if you’re in the mood for a book that is more than it seems and is also sure to chill you to the bones!
About the Author:
Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since.
When she’s not writing, Sarah frequents the pottery studio, volunteers her time to sighthound rescue, and raises awareness about her autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes. She often enjoys pursuits of the nerd variety, from video games to tabletop adventures. She’s never met an animal or a doughnut she didn’t like.
Sarah lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and their tiny zoo of four rescued sighthounds, two birds, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deep, the Reign of the Fallen series, and several books for younger readers.