"Good Girls Don't Die" by Christina Henry

Review by Terrance McArthur

Christina Henry writes unusual books. I’ve reviewed several of her novels in the past, and I know she’ll throw something at me that I’ve never seen before. In her version of a Wonderland, Alice escapes from an insane asylum with a serial-killing Mad Hatter. A former agent of Death is a many times great-grandchild of Satan, and she’s on the run from the Agency...and she’s pregnant.

As you can see, a Henry story is loaded with surprises, which brings us to...Good Girls Don’t Die.

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Three women wake up to find themselves in situations that mirror their reading tastes. Celia, a fan of cozy mysteries, finds herself with a daughter and a husband she doesn’t know, badgered by a nasty woman who is killed outside her bakery. Horror movie aficionado Allie’s birthday getaway to the beach becomes a cabin in the woods nightmare with a masked killer dispatching her friends. Maggie, interested in young-adult dystopian fiction like the Hunger Games series, is thrown into a trap-filled maze of danger and death, working with—and competing against—other women, with her daughter’s life dependent on the outcome.

In each scenario, certain things are out of whack, not quite as they should be, artificial like sets in a movie. Why are these women here, why are they being subjected to these tortures, and who—or what—is in control?

Henry plays with the tropes and the cliches of each genre, twisting expectations and commenting on gender roles and discrimination. Men in the story look down on women, think they should do as they are told, conforming to the roles they ordain for them. What a surprise for the men when these women think for themselves!

The three stories are told without jump cuts from one to another until they finally come together. This allows us to immerse ourselves in each story world, trying to piece together the answers to the puzzle before moving on to the next enigma. Patterns emerge, and logic leads to a solution that may not be so logical, but it works. It’s about empowerment, about misogyny, about not giving up. It might even be a little about The Wizard of Oz.

Christina Henry knows how to craft a ripping read, and Good Girls Don’t Die rips open your expectations...and gives you something to ponder (and there are discussion questions after the story ends). It's unusual.

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Terrance V. Mc Arthur is newly retired as a Librarian in Fresno County, California. He is also a storyteller, puppeteer, magician, and maker of pine needle baskets. On top of that he writes stories that range from rhymed children's tales to splatterpunk horror. He's an odd bird, but he's nice to have around.

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