Based on the summary, The Tenth Girl should have been an instant winner for me. Gothic, horror, mythology, own voices, ghosts, historical: so many spectacular things! Unfortunately, for me, it did not live up to its alluring description. Perhaps I should have realized that trying to fit so many wonderful things into one book would lead to something less than wonderful.
Mavi has escaped the Argentinian government, after her mother has been arrested, and finds refuge at the Vaccaro School teaching English to ten young girls. Angel is an ambiguous being who is also at Vaccaro School, but not visible to any of the other residents, and clearly from the future (as the setting is 1978). The story is told, alternating between the viewpoints of these two characters. There is something clearly amiss about the school (especially since nobody has seen more than nine girls), and evidence of a haunting becomes more and more clear. Mavi and Angel form a connection and work together to solve the mystery of the tenth girl and save the residents of Vaccaro School from a terrifying fate.
The setting of this book is amazing! The detail put into the landscape and the house are commendable, and the descriptions of the various terrors and deterioration are beautifully horrific. Faring clearly has a connection to the setting, and has put her heart into the descriptions. But for me, this is where my enjoyment for the book ends.
The characters, and I mean every character, has a back story. This leads to a lot of unnecessary detail into things that do not advance the plot or benefit the story. In fact much of this detail in back story just felt frustrating, as certain things would be so clearly outlined, but other’s were never fully revealed or explained (still trying to figure out why Angel’s brother in law must not be named). I love it when a character has a vivid backstory to help develop and give them depth, but in this case most of the details felt like throw away facts, completely useless in developing the characters. Most characters remained flat and shallow throughout.
The twist was also really frustrating for me. I love a good twist, and even more so when I can’t quite figure it out, but not this twist. It was so far from anything that I was expecting that I almost put the book down for good. I felt angry and let down and cheated even. The second half of this book was a completely different read from the first half, you are suddenly reading in a different genre entirely. For me (especially since it turned into a genre I particularly dislike), it ruined the book. For others it may be the revelation that turns this into their favorite book.
I will still recommend The Tenth Girl to the right reader, because for the right reader this book could be life changing. But, for most, this book will likely flatline.