• goddessofbooks

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh Book Review

Updated: Sep 16

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.