Bryony Adams was born to be murdered. Everyone knew it. People loved her and wept, that someone so lovely was doomed to meet a tragic end. Some looked at her and wept, for in her they saw their destiny.
The tagline for this book is a novel of murder and whimsy, and it describes it beautifully. At times achingly beautiful and lyrical, at other times comfortable like a favourite children’s book, ‘Pretty Little Dead Girls’ is a dark and disturbing fairy tale for grownups. Death follows Bryony in the literal sense, for the people who come close to her die, and hungry predators wish to make her their prize, but it is also there in the personification of the desert, where she grew up, which howls for her blood.
Even though those who meet her know Bryony is doomed to be murdered, the ones who love her can’t but try to stop her fate. Bryony is lovable, in part because of her humility brought on by her condition, part because of the almost ethereal quality of the star girl, imbued by being Death’s companion for so many years.
Yardley’s tale is hard to categorise. It is dark, absurd, beautiful and life affirming. A times the concept, a beautiful young child who is going to be murdered and the people around her who die as death draws near, would be too horrible to read about, too real and raw and upsetting if it weren’t for the narrator’s comforting voice and the one foot in fairy tale land that plants this novel in whimsy. Yet every time Yardley’s lyrical, beautiful prose threatens to fly the reader to a land of poetry and linguistic delight, death raises its head in ugly, brutal reality and down lands the other foot into murder.
I loved the star girl, my heart bled for her and I was captivated by every page. I give ‘Pretty Little Dead Girls’…