Christina Henry is well known for her reimagining of classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Alice), Little Red Riding Hood (The Girl in Red), and Sleepy Hollow (Horseman). In more recent years, she’s taken a stab at small-town murder mystery with 2020’s The Ghost Tree and isolation horror with 2021’s Near the Bone. Having enjoyed her the latter of her releases, I looked forward to reading Good Girls Don’t Die‘s self-professed twisty thriller.
Good Girls Don’t Die tells a story in three parts with three different protagonists: Celia, Allison, and Maggie as each finds themselves in unusual and what some might even call surreal circumstances. Three women; three unique stories of peril.
Waking up with no clue where or even who she is, Celia’s life is a complete blank. Imagine getting up out of bed to what seems like ordinary suburban life with absolutely no idea who the strangers’ faces are staring back at you from the framed photos on the walls. Allie is supposed to be having a girls-only birthday trip to the beach but falls asleep in the car, only to wake up, not to the sand and sun, but to an isolated cabin in the woods. Maggie has been drugged and kidnapped along with nine other women, each with a number on their shirts, told they have twelve hours to complete the Maze or the people they love will die.
Each chapter begins with an online chat style conversation about favorite genres and the tropes within them. Leading Celia’s chapter is a discussion about cozy mysteries and small-town sleuths, while Allison’s is all horror, focusing on the cabin in the woods trope and slashers. Bringing up the rear is Maggie’s chapter, all about YA dystopian like Hunger Games and The Maze Runner and the likelihood of survival. What ties these chats together is that they conclude with a man insinuating himself in the conversation, vehemently spitting vitriol towards the women.
Henry’s take on feminist horror is not subtle by any definition. The protagonists face misogyny head on without a whiff of nuance. With three unmistakable instances of patriarchal control over female identity, mental welfare, and physical being, it’s clear who is the monster in this novel.
While Celia’s and Allison’s stories maintained my attention, Maggie’s much more sanguineous tale was the least engaging for me. (Is that because I’m not a fan of YA dystopian? Possibly.) While the resourceful characters were likeable enough as they met their individual challenges, there wasn’t a distinct enough divergence between the personalities for me. Still, the conundrums which they found themselves in made for page-turning action. With each accounting, the mystery behind their circumstances is shrouded as the focus shifts unexpectedly to the next character.
Eventually, the three merge into one cohesive storyline which I personally found a bit abrupt and perhaps overly convenient. However, the mystery and suspense before the reveal still warrant a look at Good Girls Don’t Die for Christina Henry fans.
Good Girls Don’t Die by Christina Henry
From the bestselling author of Alice, three women find themselves trapped inside fictional worlds and must fight to survive in this groundbreaking locked-room thriller.
Celia wakes up in a house that isn’t hers. She doesn’t recognize her husband or the little girl who claims to be her daughter. She tries to remember who she was before, because she is certain that this life—the little family-run restaurant she owns, the gossipy small town she lives in—is not her own.
Allie is supposed to be on a fun weekend trip—but then her friend’s boyfriend unexpectedly invites the group to a remote cabin in the woods. The cabin looks recently assembled and there are no animals or other life anywhere in the forest. Nothing about the place seems right. Then, in the middle of the night, someone bangs on the cabin door…
Maggie, along with twelve other women, wakes up in a shipping container with the number three stamped on the back of her T-shirt. If she wants to see her daughter Paige again, Maggie must complete The Maze—a deadly high-stakes obstacle course.
Three women. Three stories. Only one way out…