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Pretty Little Dead Girls ( Whimsical Maybe) Review

Written by S. T. King

Bryony Adams was the type of girl who got murdered.

–From Pretty Little Dead Girls, written by Mercedes Yardley


“Not the first time I’d taken this side. I guess it’s not much of one, anyway. But look at this book, wont you? I’ll tell you about it if you look with me. Reminds me of Gaiman’s Coraline a bit, don’t it – a most beautiful tragedy. Not quite what you get with this one but its good — the wishful thinking part.

only thing keeps me going these days.”

The old woman sets the book down on the corner table. But she might as well as held on to it, since she keeps on with it, looking at it as she rocks. She’s back and forth in her chair rhythmically. And it’s like she’s somewhere far beyond the book and through the hard oak tabletop, through the floorboards even and the concrete and dirt. “Girl on the cover, I think is Bryony. I get the whole star thing from her, anyway. s’what’s they call her the whole book – telling her to run cause she’s gonna die,” she laughs.

“I ain’t gonna spoil it for you, either. Seems like a big ruse, ya ask me.  Book don’t know where it wanna go. I still like it though, let me tell you.”

I’m sure she’s going to.

“Sure,” I’d said. Just to let her know I was listening. I always felt you had to do that with old people, you know? Truth was I had read the book; and I enjoyed it as much as I hated it. Maybe I give it three stars and some change.

She stares out the window for a good while as a waft of night air brushes against it. Then she asks that I get her blanket from the other room — so I get up and bring it back. Only then is she taking the book again and turning it over in her hands. She opens it up and reads aloud. “Bryony Adams,” she says, “is the type of girl that got murdered.

That’s gotta be the best one-liner,” she says – “first page chapter one. Got your granddaddy beat, bless him. How’s that for foreplay, bubba? I’m ready to give it another lookover.

The story goes something like this. Here’s Bryony (nice to meetcha). And she’s destined to die and everyone knows this when they see her.  But death has apparently had too much to drink. Because for the life of it (see what I did, there) it can’t seem to get its bullet on the right handsome cutout of particle-board. Because of this, of course, and we’re not talking about just bullets unfortunately – the finger of death is absolute — and it touches everywhere other than where it should. So it kills all the other pretty little girls around Bryony. But it doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit, so it keeps on. The story is about the chase: one missed shot after the other.

Because my Grandmother’s told me this bit before, about what she enjoys so much about the story. I’ll tell you — even while she’s telling me again. That first line is a good indicator. It lays the groundwork for the rest of the read. It’s the first piss of gas in the Econoline’s inline six engine.

With the first line the foreboding and whimsy starts promptly and at a fever pitch — and is told with both quaint and kiddish keystrokes. It’s like murder written in magic marker. And it’s to good effect, too. It makes for a wholesome serving of wit and black humor.


“Where are you planning to go, sweetheart?” he asked her.  Wherever it was, he wouldn’t follow.  The desert was his home, the wild animals prowling around inside his skin. The sun had baked itself right into his psyche, and if he walked too far past its borders, he would collapse into sand that filled his shoes.  He knew Bryony would come home, one way or another.  She would either visit or be shipped home in bits and parts.  The desert would have her when all was said and done, but not yet. Not quite yet.

–From Pretty Little Dead Girls, written by Mercedes Yardley


Meet Bryony’s father. He’s old. And Bryony’s gotten a little older and up until this point has dodged death without much trouble. Keep in mind that it’s still early. And death manifests itself currently as more of a force. And that’s the vehicle that carries the story.


“I’m not sure yet, Daddy. I was thinking that maybe I’d like to see cornfields.”

“All of the old horror movies revolve around cornfields.”

–From Pretty Little Dead Girls, written by Mercedes Yardley


Charming, isn’t it? And the mood that’s betrothed to it. It’s homicide drawn in red and black crayon. You can expect this reliably for most of the pages. And most of the time it’s a joy to read. But like most things it’s not without its blemishes.

The story-telling itself is where it’s at (two turn tables and a microphone). It sucks to see but the execution often misses the mark. Though the driving force for the narrative is fresh and novel – turns out the newness is only skin-deep. Bout like the new Iphone.

This is what you waited in line for, people.

Bad jokes and unrelated references aside — and if I’m to be a little more thorough in my rigor, surely I owe you that, don’t I, reader – the way the story is gotten off, it sets the expectation for something greater than what it delivers. It’s missing the unique feel I’d expect to match its fresh narrative engine.

Indeed, it seems like it wants to go there – but it doesn’t quite make it. Frankly, the story seems terrified of the idea: unsure as to how its inhabitants ought to react to things such as murder or the force of death. It reads fantastical and yet speaks in a modern voice. That the story has these lapses stints the growth of what might’ve been both an entrenching and intriguing world and atmosphere. It doesn’t water down the experience completely but you do taste it in there.  Some good chunks of meat and cheese make it worth eating but it’s not the tastiest thing on the menu.


Fate grumbled and schemed and plotted.  Sending an enthusiastic but second rate robber to do a professional killer’s job certainly didn’t seem to work.  Now the gloves were off.  It was time to call in the big guns.

–From Pretty Little Dead Girls, written by Mercedes Yardley


You’re probably tired of my talking about food, huh?

See, my Grandmother has the new Iphone and she raves about it day in and day out – like she does this story. She has a thing for fairy tales, anwyway. And the novelty of the book’s foundation – which is damn strong admittedly – it tells like one of those bedtimes stories. And it seems to belong there too. But it must have been at the final pass – as the midnight train chugs along the same track of whence it started, rumbling along to its final destination – that the inspiration runs dry. A train without fuel isn’t worth riding. But it is worth collecting, for other reasons, at least.

I don’t regret it, as far as it brought me. Isn’t the pleasure to be had, afterall, in the goddamn experience?


Final Rating:  3.5/5




About The Author: S.T. King is an aspiring novelist with a ravenous appetite for the dark, and an insatiable thirst for the ink of the fantastique. Currently he’s a mental health counselor, helping people purge the skeletons from their closets – though admittedly, he thinks it’s more fun putting them back in.

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