In my continued search for engaging and new horror, I delve into lots of books and consult lots of lists, new and old. Well, on a few of those lists, I found The Tenth Girl mentioned and I went to work tracking down a copy to read.
It’s a bit of a Gothic tale, set in Argentina in the late 70s, at a remote girl’s school. We arrive there with the new English teacher, Mavi. With a troubled past, and a faked teaching degree, she has somehow landed what she thinks will be a job that can be a new beginning for her. What she finds is a sprawling mansion, filled with twisty corridors, threateningly dark closets, and the sensation that this school is haunted.
It’s a dark tale, as we learn pretty quickly that not only are there Others stalking the halls of the school, but they can feed off and possess those who live, learn and work there.
It’s moody, dark, and with alternating chapters between the two main characters, Mavi, and Angel, it can occasionally be a little jarring. Angel brings her own story to the tale, one that takes a while to suss out and leads to a reveal that allows what is essentially a ghost story, undergo a genre twist.
The twist, when it happens, may be a surprise for some genre readers, but for others, it just makes sense, as we’ve seen it play out across other stories and media. Which is not to say it’s a bad story, or predictable. It’s in fact very good, with a sense of eeriness and foreboding leaning over your shoulder as you read.
We examine the ghosts, the school and the world the characters inhabit in a way that examines who we are as people, and what that means, and how we exist, and how events, and those around us define us, and support us.
It ends up being a great story, and its interesting seeing how it plays out once the reveal happens. A reveal that doesn’t slow the story down at all, but leaves you considering everything that has gone before it in a new light, which is pretty cool.
I like Faring’s writing style, and she writes in an engaging way, though hints at some terribly dark things in this book, so it may not be for all readers, but it is, nonetheless, a solid tale.
It succeeds in being spooky, and paying homage to classic ghost tales, and writers, most notably Shirley Jackson, while also making the genre(s) her own. It’s an enjoyable, interesting, and eerie read.