By Cynthia Bujnicki
High above the wilds of South America is a finishing school surrounded by mist and a legend of a curse that those that settle there will perish. Mavi has no choice but to relocate there, on the run from a government that took her mother, a rebel leader, and is now coming for her. At first, Mavi tries to ignore the strange happenings around the old school, but when people begin to vanish and her fellow teachers begin to act possessed, Mavi looks for clues in the past and the spirits around her to unravel the madness and hauntings looming around them.
It is a struggle to read a novel with no clear direction. That is not intended to say that this novel is a struggle to read, necessarily. The biggest obstacle with grasping this novel is the fact that The Tenth Girl presents itself one way and takes the reader on this journey only to take a left turn and take the story in an entirely unfettered direction, leaving the reader stranded and unsure of what the novel was about at its core.
The Tenth Girl markets itself as a Gothic novel and while it does accomplish that for most of the novel, the ending results in something completely different. The plot twist came out of nowhere. This plot twist that has potential, except for the fact that there is very little tangibility to it. It is intriguing but ultimately works against everything the author built up, undermining the atmosphere that the story was building up., It broke up the flow and rising tension of the novel, creating a narrative that just was not cohesive with the rest of the material in the novel. Some other elements presented in the story tie to this plot twist, but for most of the novel, they risk put the reader off. Instead of focusing on the story and the tension, the ghostly atmosphere, the reader is left distracted, trying to figure out what these elements mean. Even after the reveal, well, they do not make much sense. They require the reader to go back and forth as they piece together these plot devices. Again, this is where the plot twist could have served the overall storytelling by being presented in a more precise fashion so that the reveal and the details Faring put in would click instantly for the reader. It should have been a wow moment for the reader, but instead leads to more confusion and takes the reader out of the story.
Now, as for the Gothic aspect of the story, Faring does an excellent job of blending in those haunting elements. F, from the atmosphere to the mythology that Faring creates, the eerie feeling is there on every page, creeping up on the reader much like a ghost watching from the shadows. It works amazingly to build up the Gothic narrative. quite well, and for that, the novel works. As for the characterization, these are characters that are not entirely enigmatic. It is the ending that fails to capture that all together. Mavi is an interesting character in the way she moves about the story, with her past close at her heels influencing her, but other than that, she is a rather bland character. Mavi is just there, a voice to drive the story forward, and so is Angel. Angel’s identity, his narrative, it functions much like Mavi’s. They each have a fascinating past that makes them alluring as it influences who they are and how they move about the story, but again, Angel is as bland as Mavi. There is nothing about them that makes them stand out once the reader finishes the story. For both of them, most of their intriguing aspects come from how they analyze zing the situation and her response to situations rather than her personality.them emotionally.
Overall, a fascinating novel that suffers from an ill-fitting segue. (★★★☆☆)