Tuesday, June 21, 2016
THEY SAY A GIRL DIED HERE ONCE
THEY SAY A GIRL DIED HERE ONCE, Sarah Pinborough, Earthling Publications (Halloween Series), $35, reviewed by Jim Brock.
I try to walk 30 minutes most every morning. Over where I walk I often see a man with his dog. That dog is a small terrier of some sort. Its name is Cujo.
I’ve told you that to tell you this: not since Stephen King’s CUJO have I read a book whose ending was as strong a gut punch as is THEY SAY A GIRL DIED HERE ONCE. My gut is more ample than it used to be but Sarah Pinborough absolutely twisted and shocked and disturbed it (to my delight) as much King did all those years ago.
Anna is a 17-year-old dropout who, along with her Grandma, Mother, and 10-year-old sister have moved back to Grandma’s hometown. They have fled the city because Anna was involved in some internet/social media disgrace. Mom works the nightshift as a nurse. Anna waitresses at a diner and looks after her sister and Grandma at night. That is complicated by the fact that Grandma is slowly failing with Alzheimer’s.
When Grandma starts scratching at the door leading down to the basement in their creepy old house and begins speaking some strange thoughts, an already unsettled Anna becomes more and more unsettled.
THEY SAY A GIRL DIED HERE ONCE slowly builds the tension and suspense. Pinborough parcels out the clues and story slowly, and I found myself I was in the middle of a teen angst or a ghost story or a murder mystery when, in reality, I was in the middle of an incredible read that was all of this and so much more.
Much like the little dog I told you about earlier, the friendly little terrier whose character took on such a strong meaning due to being named Cujo, THEY SAY A GIRL DIED HERE ONCE is a short novel with a huge impact. And the last pages are incredibly creative.