Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favourite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson was published by Razorbill on May 8th 2018.
Trigger warnings; death, murder, discussions of suicide, and fatphobic and racist comments.
When I picked up Undead Girl Gang I expected it to be nothing more than a fun read, a change of pace from the harder-hitting books I’d picked up beforehand, but it ended up being so much more than that. Yes Undead Girl Gang is a fun murder-mystery but it’s also a book full of incredibly written female characters and female friendships, a book about grief and about letting go. It was a great read that was surprisingly moving in places.
“Spells are just prayers with more steps and a name that scares people.”
Mila has lost her best and only friend. Everyone in Cross Creek thinks Riley committed suicide, but Mila knows there’s something more sinister behind her best friend’s death. Unfortunately no one else sees that. Using the magic herself and Riley were devoted too Mila manages to bring Riley back to life, but the spell was more powerful than she realised. Instead of just bringing Riley back Mila has also brought back June and Dayton, two more girls who committed suicide in their small town.
The spell has only brought Riley, June and Dayton back for seven days, and with no memories of their last moments on Earth they have no interest in trying to uncover who murdered them. Mila is still determined though and continues looking into Riley’s death, and June’s and Dayton’s as well, but she’s also got to maintain control of three undead girls who have their own unfinished business they want to finish before they have to return to their graves.
“I did big, real magic using a bunch of flowers and an old-ass book, and I feel just as lonely now as I did when my best friend was dead.”
Mila love Riley, and her grief after losing her best friend is so raw in this book. Riley was the only friend Mila had and without her she’s lost without anything to pull her out of her depression, even magic was something Riley was more into than Mila was. When Mila brings Riley back she has her best friend again, even if it’s just for seven days, but it isn’t the same and Riley struggles with how she feels. It’s hard for her knowing that someone killed her but not remembering what happened, knowing that Mila has more knowledge of Riley’s last days alive than Riley herself has.
The dynamic between Mila, Riley, June and Dayton was my favourite part of this book. When they were alive June and Dayton were the high school ‘mean girls’, and at first after Mila brings them back they still have an attitude which suggests they’re better than Mila and Riley however they quickly see how horrible they were and start to change. Some of my favourite parts of this book were the one-on-one conversations Mila had with June, about Mila’s crush on Caleb, and Dayton, about Dayton’s grief for leaving her family.
“Stop sitting back and waiting for everyone else to do the dirty work for you. You aren’t a princess. You’re a walking, talking dead girl. And the sooner you get angry about that, the sooner you can do something other than read through spells you don’t even fucking believe in!”
The main story of Undead Girl Gang is the murder-mystery aspect, who killed Riley, but it’s also a story about learning to let go. Mila didn’t get a chance to properly say goodbye to Riley, not knowing the last time she saw her best friend would be the last time Riley was alive, and now Mila may have seven extra days but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Mila, Riley, June and Dayton all grow closer throughout those seven days, with none of the girls about to move too far from Mila without their bodies reverting back to their dead states, and the end of this book nearly broke my heart. All four of the girls grew in the seven days they were together, saying goodbye was never going to be easy but it always had to be done.
The murder-mystery aspect to this book was well-written; towards the end I did catch-on to who was behind the deaths, but there were a few red-herrings which led me down the wrong path. It seems like everyone had a motive to want Riley, June and Dayton dead, but there isn’t much connecting the three girls which points to one killer. The longer they’re alive again the more Riley, June and Dayton remember, including the moment of their deaths, which only makes them more determined to catch the monster that killed them.
“There’s nowhere to step on the rotting porch that doesn’t come with a screech or a groan of wood, so I walk with my usual sense of purpose. Boots on the ground. Collar up. Zombies behind me.”
There is a small romantic subplot but the main focus of Undead Girl Gang is on Mila’s, Riley’s, June’s and Dayton’s individual development and their journey to uncover a killer. The writing was engaging, and the twists and turns kept me hooked. I do wish the magic had been explained a little more, there were a few questions raised in this book which I felt were never answered. It wasn’t enough to ruin the book, it just left some niggling thoughts in the back of my mind once I finished reading.
Have you read Undead Girl Gang, or is it still on your TBR list?
Did you work out the identity of the killer, or were you misled until they were actually revealed? Did you like the friendship between Mila, Riley, June and Dayton, and what was your favourite scene between the four girls?
Have you read any of Lily Anderson’s other releases, which is your favourite?