This new thriller by the author was one, I was very eager to read. I know her from her former work and the back text was one big promise. Well, okay, the cover of the German edition isn´t that appealing and fitting as the original one, but that happens and you can´t really do something about it. Those Girls didn´t make that much of an impression on me, as That Night did, but it was very entertaining anyway. Chevy Steven has a certain kind of way to grip the reader´s attention and to go under the reader´s skin, like no other author I know.

Those Girls*
by Chevy Stevens
Publisher St. Martin´s Press on July 7, 2015
Genre Thriller
Pages 384
Format Hardcover
Source Publisher*

Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father´s temper. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. As events spiral out of control they find themselves in a horrifying situation and are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.
Eighteen years late, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer. But when one of the sisters goes missing, followed closely by her niece, they are pulled back into the past. And this time there´s nowhere left to run.
Jess, Dani, and Courtney don´t live an easy life. Their father drinks too much after the death of their mother, and when he is drunk, he´s in an unpredictable mood and anything can happen. One night, things get out of control and the three Campbell sisters have no other choice but to flee – only to get in a much worse situation than their already in. A situation that shows Jess, the youngest, that she didn´t escape from hell: she just got in.

Those Girls is structured into three parts. One is written from the personal point of view by Jess, the second from Skylar´s (no, I am not telling you who that is, you have to figure that out yourself) and in the third from both. Articulated like that, the thriller becomes more and more haunting, gets a certain kind of tension and the scene changes do their share to keep the reader in place. Chevy Stevens's language is sensitive but blunt and her writing style shows enough to let the reader´s fantasy do the rest. And that is quite shocking. Alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, brutal rape, and some very dark characters make this thriller one hell of a show.

The author is famous for her psychological finesse, her quiet but very effective accent and in combination with well-created figures and a strong plot, she creates incredibly good books. There is always a surprise in her thrillers, that one moment where you feel the edge and you think: wow, I didn´t see that coming. And she is one of the very few authors in that genre who is able to bring the feeling of a subliminal threat into it, so dark, so drastic that you – as a reader – can´t name it. You feel it, oh yes, you just can´t tell where it comes from and where it´ll end.

No doubt, characters with some edges and a troubled life/past are very interesting. It gives them a certain kind of depth, a profoundness you won´t find in a facile person. The figures in this book are all a bit naïve in some ways. At some point, I was literally shaking my head and thought why in god’s name did she do that? What was the point? Ok, for the plot it was necessary to close the circle, to end things where they started, well at least close to it. But the author gives me a bit of a hard time to see why one of the sisters did what she did. In Those Girls, you find three very different characters that have only one thing in common: they from the same parents.

Jess is the youngest and strongest. She steps in when the eldest of the Campbell sisters, Dani, isn´t capable of doing what she intended to do. Jess is the one who is able to get out of that nightmare they were faced with very few scars. For me she had the toughest decision to make, a woman will ever have to face. And how she handles that bad situation, how she develops was really great to watch.

Dani likes to be in control of everything. She wants to do what´s best for her and her sisters but isn´t really capable. When her sisters say otherwise and try to make her listen to their guts, she doesn´t do it. And that leads into one precarious situation after the other – and wears her off. In every bad situation, where the action is needed and she would have to do the final step, she freezes. She can´t forgive herself that she didn´t take better care of her little sisters, that she didn´t prevent them from the hell they had to go through.

Courtney is, well, Courtney. She behaves like a slut, doesn´t care about what people might say or think about her, dresses like a bitch, and inside she is as naïve and scared to death young girl. Why obey rules if you don´t like them? When she gets literally burned by her drunken father and later has to face a very brutal man with deviant and sick sexual craving, she changes into a ghost. From there on she is only a shadow of what she once was. Drugs, alcohol, and a very erratically lifestyle are now her life.

A very haunting and thrilling book. Chevy Stevens brings it to the point and fascinates the reading eye with her sensitive but direct writing style. Yes, this thriller has its bloody and very cruel moments, yes there is the one or the other page where you´ll be shocked to the bone, but the author is always on a great level.

Warning: If you have some issues with rape, sexual harassment, and child abuse, you better keep your hands off.

Happy reading

*I read the German edition new release by Fischer published June 23, 2016 

Chevy Stevens
Chevy Stevens ©Poppy Photography

Chevy Stevens is the author of Still Missing and Never Knowing. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a realtor. When she held open houses, she had a lot of time waiting by herself between potential buyers, and Stevens would spend this time scaring herself with all the things that could happen to her. The most terrifying scenario she thought up became the story behind Still Missing. Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island, and she still calls the island home. When she´s not writing, she´s hiking with her husband and her dog in the local mountains.


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