The rise of paranormal romance and urban fantasy has made the classic, turn-your-ceiling-light-on-not-just-the-reading-lamp ghost story fairly hard to find these days, especially among YA literature. Katie Alender’s BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE is a excellent example of why these stories have been around since… since people used lanterns to read I suppose, and literally burnt the midnight oil keeping the creepies at bay.
Alexis has the bad luck to not quite fit in anywhere. Her Goth friends – The Doom Squad – are a little too dark for her tastes, but she isn’t exactly cheerleader material either. In fact, Pepper – one of the resident Alpha Cheerleaders – has been giving her the evil eye ever since her little sister broke her arm playing at Alexis’ house with Kasey, Alexis’ own little sis. Pepper goes so far as to claim that Kasey broke her sister’s arm on purpose, after she made the mistake of touching one of Kasey’s precious dolls.
Alexis tries to ignore Pepper’s claim, but Kasey hasn’t been herself lately. She spends too much time in the basement by herself, protects her dolls with an almost feral attitude, and makes demands far too childish for a thirteen-year-old, like asking Alexis to tell her bedtime stories.
Alexis is a photographer, not a story-teller, but one night a tale bubbles out of her without much effort. The story tells itself, and Alexis is shocked as her voice shares details about events surrounding their house, in a time long past. She speaks of a little girl, bullied for her oddness, who is chased to her home by a gang of stone-throwing girls. The victim climbs a tree to escape her attackers, but the last stone thrown is fateful – she falls to her death.
As Kasey’s behavior grows more odd, and even violent, Alexis begins looking for clues about their house and the girl who was killed. She finds tragedies spanning decades, and a vengeful ghost whose deepest wish is to avenge herself upon generations of those attached to her death. The small town has a large family tree, and if the ghost is able to use Kasey to her full intent, no family will be left untouched.
The sequel, FROM BAD TO CURSED was released this summer from Hyperion. Go grab ’em both for some fantastic beach reads that will cool you down, even in the sun.