If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I’m always looking (nay, lusting) for the next great YA suspense read — a suspense read so deliciously and irresistibly phenomenal it persuades me to drop all my responsibilities and read. The Last Girl (titled The Mary Shelley Club in the US) by Goldy Moldavsky has made every one of my favorite horror tropes a reality and delivered a popcorn thriller (horror read) par excellence. A standout among 2021 YA suspense reads.
Rachel Chavez has survived something truly harrowing, and in the wake of her narrow escape, she’s turned to horror movies to help her keep calm and move on. Seems… not like something I would do, but whatever will help Rachel cope. Again, to help Rachel cope, her mom’s transferred her to an elite NYC private school. Not that they’re rolling in cash. Her mom’s a teacher, so Rachel’s admission is the one perk. But being the new kid with a haunted past is difficult. Especially when your social skills are rusty, bordering on manic. We genuinely feel for this girl.
Until it’s the Mary Shelley Club to the rescue. Well, sort of. The Mary Shelley Club is a completely hush-hush secret society whose members (are a super odd bunch and) share a love for all things terrifying. They get a kick out of (really!) scaring people with a thing they call Fear Tests — elaborate pranks that follow only three rules: everyone must take part, there can be only one target, and the test is only successful if the target screams. It sounds like bullying, and it might be, but the targets are such heinous people. So it seems only fair, right?!
But there comes the point when Rachel realizes that all is not popcorn and movie nights and fake blood. Still, she cannot back out. If she does, the Mary Shelley Club is prepared to use her darkest secret against her. A secret that will destroy her life… again.
If you need to know one thing straight off the bat, it’s that (just like in any good horror movie) no one is safe. There is a reason I read The Last Girl in just over one sitting, and that was that Goldy Moldavsky keeps readers hooked with a breakneck pace. Did I see the twists coming? I did not. Could I have seen them coming if I was more observant (because, admittedly, I am not)? Nope, still don’t think so. Looking back, yes, all the red herrings are there, but so wonderfully, so beautifully subtle. And the tension. It’s like a knife through a circus tent tightrope. Gasping and bated breath as we watch the horror unfold.
Book: The Last Girl
Published: Electric Monkey Books
Publication Date: April 15th 2021