Living Dead Girl tells us about everyone’s nightmare: a girl (unnamed) is abducted when she’s ten, taken to be her captor’s object of cruelty. He calls her Alice.
We get tossed into her living hell of a life when Alice is fifteen. Her captor, Ray, starves Alice to keep her from growing, but Alice knows her time is up. Ray’s previous Alice washed up in a river when she turned 15, something he likes to remind our Alice of.
We follow every cruel detail of Alice’s captivity: the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, the starvation that makes Alice slow and tired. We get to see how everyone looks the other way, how Ray keeps the upper hand, and how Alice gives in to her situation.
Until it’s time to find a new girl for Ray, a young victim Alice picks out at her local park. Alice meets the young girl’s brother, who’s confused and damaged himself, and allows her to break out of her pattern of submission.
This book was so dark, I was afraid to put it down. The writing is sparse and poignant, just like I like it, but raw, in a way that made me cringe. Think Joyce Carol Oats’ darkness, and multiply by a hundred. Living Dead Girl was such a deep dive into desperation and evil, I was afraid I was never coming out.
Although this was not a mystery, it’s crime fiction with a capital C. And the writing is probably among the best I’ve seen, so it gets a 5.
I have to confess though: after I finished this book, I read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (also a 5, and most recommended by me, but not a mystery) just to cheer myself up. That’s how dark Living Dead Girl was. So come prepared.