Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn

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Olivia Foster hasn’t felt alive since her little brother drowned in the backyard pool three years ago. Then Kara Hallas moves in across the street with her mother and grandmother, and Olivia is immediately drawn to these three generations of women. Kara is particularly intoxicating, so much so that Olivia not only comes to accept Kara’s morbid habit of writing to men on death row, she helps her do it. They sign their letters as the Resurrection Girls.

But as Kara’s friendship pulls Olivia out of the dark fog she’s been living in, Olivia realizes that a different kind of darkness taints the otherwise lively Hallas women—an impulse that is strange, magical, and possibly deadly.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. It’s spoiler free!!

I was instantly intrigued by this book’s description and by the author’s promise of magical realism, and what I got did not disappoint.

I’d like to say that this book is first and foremost about loss. It was incredibly hard to read at times, and if you’re prone to crying, this one is definitely a tear-jerker. The author herself has experienced the loss of a child, just like the characters in her novel. The result was an incredibly raw and sincere voice, one that knew grief and tragedy from many angles. It was heartbreaking to read, and the emotions Olivia felt were vividly tangible. I am always wary of death in books–sometimes characters’ reactions to it can be unrealistically dramatic or underwhelming. Morgyn got it just right, letting rays of hope and healing start to shine through. Her prose was refreshingly unique, unlike most YA narration these days. There were clever turns of phrases and unexpected analogies. It was genuinely enjoyable to read, and especially impressive considering that this is Morgyn’s debut novel.

The characters felt dynamic and rich, like real people I could actually talk to. They were well-developed, and their relationships with one another felt organic. They all had traits that stood out, but they didn’t completely define them. They were multi-dimensional with lots of morally gray decisions. My favorite was Kara, the unusual girl who moved in across the street. She was charismatic and manipulative, confident and effortless. I was really drawn to her, which made the actions of Olivia all the more relatable.

I agree with some others who have said that the plot needed a little work. I think the idea of writing letters to prison inmates is what drew me in, but this subplot fell a little short, in my opinion. Additionally, the ending left me slightly unsatisfied, as it went in somewhat of a strange direction. I enjoyed individual scenes, but I do think they could have been strung together in a different way.

I’d characterize this book as a little bit magical realism and a little bit supernatural, but honestly, not too much of either. There are dashes of contemporary romance and other YA fiction. It doesn’t completely have the same qualities as other books in these genres, so I’m content to leave it in one all its own. It’s gritty, and haunting, and a little spooky.

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