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The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh Book Review

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Title: The Girls Are Never Gone

Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh

Genre: Horror, Mystery, YA

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Description: 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.

(Trigger Warnings: Paranormal Horror, Death, Animal Death, Drowning)

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh is a new release young adult horror novel. It focuses on a central mystery of multiple missing girls as podcaster Dare investigates the phenomenon. I was lucky enough to receive a copy so a thank you to the author and TBR and Beyond Tours. The book’s official publish date was September 7, 2021 with the perfect time frame to qualify as a seasonal spooky read.

The opening with a podcast voiceover told by Dare, the main character, shares the initial information engagingly. From the point of view of our narrator, the book flows naturally. It's easy to get through even as you're learning chunks of necessary information. It describes the history of Arrington to the reader without it boring them to tears. Sarah Glenn Marsh lays out the mental image of a formerly glamorous house in ruin after the deaths of girls spanning generations.

Sarah Glenn Marsh nailed the voice of a young adult in both the podcast and Dare's time at Arrington. It holds the right amount of wisdom that some authors forget exists in teenagers, but still possesses the impulsivity of them that other authors overplay. The idea of a teen paranormal investigator works in this case. It feels more mature than, say, a Nancy Drew mystery but still keeps the YA authenticity you expect.

The Girls Are Never Gone is plotted out as a fairly innocuous mystery with glimpses of horror simmering beneath the surface. There may be a spooky, horror-esque element to the story but it also follows the layout of a classic mystery novel, only in this case the culprit is from another world. Horror on its own can become a very over-done and dry genre, but this book manages to take the common concepts and add flair to them, therefore contemporizing them. Sarah Glenn Marsh takes what could have been a thin horror storyline, and adds depth. The flat scenarios come alive in waves of vibrancy that overtake the reader like the lake of Arrington might.

The book builds slowly to the climax of the mystery and horror. It layers instances like a foundation that leads upwards to its culmination. There's never a dull moment. Some mysteries can struggle with keeping up the momentum until the big reveal but this isn't one of them. The reader is left constantly on edge, not necessarily scared, but rather anticipatory. Sarah Glenn Marsh knows how to write fear-inducing scenes that elevate the mystery. She sprinkles an underlying sense of foreboding through every chapter.

Dare is the main character who serves as a likable narrator you don't resent when seeing the world from their viewpoint. She's active and constantly deciphering the clues alongside the reader. The book portrays her type 1 diabetes without a problem. It makes it very much a part of the character's life, chronically present, but it also isn't the defining quality of her. By the author portraying a character with type 1 diabetes, she dismisses the fear and misunderstanding by addressing it head-on through the main character.

The characters are set up so they feed off each other, propelling one another and the plot forward. Banter shared between friends is at the heart of the story. It doesn't feel stuffy like the halls of Arrington. The rag-tag group of girls face the brunt of the storm together during their time at the house. While they may be flawed, the characters are also brave in the face of the more sinister elements of the tale.

While the book itself is technically classified as horror, it has that meet-cute romance you don't often see in the genre. It doesn't strictly define itself as horror. It reaches out and breaks boundaries. Quinn and Dare feel like they were made to stand beside one another, no matter where their relationship takes them. They are two halves that are irrevocably linked by the events at Arrington. I rarely associate a good, well-developed romance with the mystery or horror genres, but this romance is the exception to the rule.

The inclusion of an authentic sapphic romance gives fellow queer girls nostalgia of first love. Sarah Glenn Marsh breezily captures the delicate hesitancy and yearning that anyone can relate to in regards to new love. It's almost unusual for a mystery/horror book to feature queer representation with the main character and not as a novelty side character. This story breaks that unspoken rule by giving you a couple you can cheer on throughout.

The haunting has a mystifying quality, etched into the past of Arrington. Every nook and cranny of the house exposes the decay lying in wait. I've always been a fan of the mystery genre, but horror is typically outside of my comfort zone. The Girls Are Never Gone is the perfect mingling of the two. It hooked me on the concept instantly. My favorite part of a mystery novel is how everything is interconnected, past and present, and this book does that at every turn, aligning points on a map that you couldn't possibly connect before.

The Girls Are Never Gone Links

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository // Indigo // IndieBound

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.

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