Thursday, February 1, 2018

Review: Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Pretty Girls Dancing
by Kylie Brant
Release Date: January 1st, 2018
2018 Thomas & Mercer
Kindle Edition; 370 Pages
ISBN: 978-1542049955
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5/5 Stars


Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

My Thoughts
Pretty Girls Dancing was actually quite engrossing, and I pretty much read it in one sitting.  It had an interesting plot line, some intriguing characters, and the writing was well done. I think the only issue I really had with it was the ending as it just felt...wrong. No other way to explain it.

First of all, I liked the alternate POV as you got to see the events unwind from a variety of different angles, and it allowed the author to try and develop some characters. From the beginning, I couldn't wait to get to either Janie's, Mark's, and especially, Whitney's point of view as they were the more interesting and developed characters. I especially developed a liking for Whitney's story as you got a great sense of her strength and power as well as the horrible things her captor was willing to do to get her to submit to him; it's pretty scary actually, and I seriously doubt I would have handled it as well as she did.  I rooted for her throughout the book and really hoped her ending would be a good one.

Janie was another interesting character, suffering from selective mutism and extreme social anxiety most of her life, and I really thought her story was fascinating, especially with the focus on mental health out there today. Dealing with students who have severe social anxiety, it gave me an insight as to what those students are dealing with any moment of the day and I appreciated that insight.  I thought Janie was an incredibly powerful character and I was thrilled with her development throughout, without seeming like her anxiety was gone, something I would have been disappointed over as I know it's something you have to live with all your life.  I wasn't particularly fond of Janie's mother Claire, and although I was sympathetic with the crushing blows with which she was dealing, I did find her somewhat selfish at times, as if she was the only one going through anything. I won't pretend to even understand what she was going through, but it was always about her and her issues, kind of neglecting her husband and her child, which is why I understand some of her husband's actions.  The book tried to make Claire more sympathetic in the end, but for me it failed, and I was rooting for Janie's dad, despite his obvious flaws.  And I find it weird that I'd be thinking this way, but the author tried to make Claire so weak and vulnerable that it just turned me off her character.

The plot, except for the ending, I enjoyed tremendously.  I liked Mark as a detective and hope to see more of him in the future in other books.  I thought the mystery was quite compelling and I have to admit that I didn't see the ending coming the way it did. I want to stress that I liked the ending, but it also felt contrived and too pat at the same time.  Does that make sense? Probably not.  I just felt the author was looking for a major, major plot twist and tried a bit too hard.  However, it did leave a bad taste in my mouth and I can't stop thinking about it even now.  Unfortunately, you will just have to read the book to know what I am talking about.

Pretty Girls Dancing was definitely not what I was expecting, and that's a good thing.  With some interesting plot twists, some intriguing characters, the overall story was good; even though I had a problem with the ending and thought the perp was the least interesting character, I think this is one book that you will just have to decide for yourself if you want to read it or not. Like I said, while I found it engrossing, the ending turned me right off and spoiled the overall book for me.