They call them the Moth Girls because they were attracted to the house. Drawn to it. Or at least, that’s what was written in the newspapers that Mandy reads on the anniversary of when her two best friends went missing. Five years have passed since Petra and Tina were determined to explore a dilapidated house in their neighbourhood. But what started off as a dare ended with the two girls vanishing. As Many’s memories of the disappearances of her two friends are reignited, disturbing details will resurface in her mind.
What I’m loving about some of the books I’m reading at the moment is that they are focussed on friendship more than romance because I think we’re all realising romance is being overdone in YA fiction. Moth Girls is a novel that takes a closer look at teen friendships, loyalty, and the impact that the disappearances of two girls can have on those left behind. I was surprised to find that this book isn’t told in a linear way. It’s split into parts – some parts focus on the present and some on the past. While initially I thought it would be a little hard to navigate through the alternate view points and times, I found that it really added a great deal of meaning and depth to the story, particularly the friendships between the three girls. It enabled me not only to get understand the dynamics between these girls, but also of their own pasts and how this impacted on all their lives. Without this story being told from different viewpoints and different times, I feel like it would have become very one-sided because we would only hear things from the one person we experience the story from and not be able to really get to know anyone other than Mandy.
Which leads me on to talking about Mandy. She was so affected from being the only one still here after her two friends disappeared, and I could really sympathise with her. She was able to convey the loss and guilt she was feeling with such clarity and I felt as though it was easy to relate to her. Even though her situation isn’t one that we can all relate to, and nor would we want to, but I feel that the emotions she experiences can be translated to other areas of our lives. In that way, this book resonated with me highlighted the effect that living with this sort of guilt can have on a person. It was heartbreaking to see her blaming herself for the disappearance of her two friends, mostly because it’s such a normal response to produce. Even though I felt like shouting at her that she needed to move past her guilt because there was nothing she could have changed about what happened, I understood how she was feeling.
One of my favourite aspects of this novel is how Mandy eventually overcame those feelings of guilt and grief and started to live her life again. In the beginning, it was like her life was on pause. She couldn’t move forward because her mind was stuck in the past, reliving the day her friends disappeared in a desperate attempt that something would turn out differently. To me, I feel that you can’t push a person to change. You can’t simply tell them over and over that something is not their fault. Until they believe it, nothing you say will change anything. It has to come from inside the person. And that’s part of what was so satisfying to see in the end. I loved Mandy’s character development and seeing her overcome that part of her life. It was still inside her and she would still never forget it, but she was simply not allowing it to consume her anymore. It was almost as if we, as the reader, could finally exhale again. There was a feeling of, not relief, but the serene qualities that follow a storm. You know that the worst of it is over, but that’s not to say a storm won’t come again. I think that a part of dealing with grief and guilt is making it past the first storm and knowing that because of it, you’re better equipped for the ones to come.
Another thing I loved about Moth Girls was how the mystery of the girls’ disappearance was used to examine the friendships between the characters. When Mandy first meets Petra and Tine in the months before they disappear, she feels like the outsider and as though she wouldn’t ever be a part of their tight friendship. While I found it a little bit irritating that she so desperately wanted to be a part of her group, I could understand why she wanted to be included in the special bond they shared. To me, it was very reminiscent of my middle school days… four years ago aha 😅
To be honest, I thought that this book would have more mystery in it. Yes, there was some mystery surrounding what happened to the girls that disappeared, but there wasn’t much else going on. Perhaps this was because a lot of the storyline was written from before their disappearances so that it enabled the novel to focus on the friendships of the girls rather than just on the mystery of their disappearance. But for me, the parts I loved most in this novel were the twists. There were definitely a few twists that I never saw coming and I absolutely loved feeling the thrill of being caught off-guard. I just would have loved to feel as though I was on the edge of my seat for the entire novel, not just at fifty-page intervals. But then again, perhaps the most horrific thing in this novel wasn’t the disappearance of the girls. Something that I found more horrifying that the potential deaths of these two girls was the abuse that a secondary character had to deal with. I won’t go into too much detail because spoilers, but this particular secondary character was definitely a person I loved reading about and it hurt to see her being abused the way she was. I’m just so pleased that she was able to stand up for herself in the end.
Overall, this is a book I definitely enjoyed reading and I’m sure I’ll be reading again in the near future. It’s a character-driven thriller with an ending you’ll never see coming. I’d give Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy a score of 8.5 out of 10. So let’s talk! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review, hasn’t it? How’ve you been? What’s been going on in your life? What are you reading at the moment? Are you thinking of reading Moth Girls now? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!