The Good Luck Girls
On her Lucky Night (induction into prostitution), sixteen-year-old Clementine accidentally kills the brutal “brag” she is forced to entertain. Her sister, Aster, knows they must run away or face certain death. But escaping the Welcome House is not easy, and Aster must recruit three more Good Luck Girls also anxious to escape a life none of them chose. They head north towards a fabled woman named Lady Ghost who has the ability to remove their “favors,” tattoos on their necks and faces which brand them as Good Luck Girls and which burn and glow when covered. Along the way they must fight off terrifying ghosts, soulless “raveners” who seek to control their minds, and the murdered “brag’s” family who want vengeance.
The Good Luck Girls, written for readers fourteen and up, is speculative fiction with magical elements set in an alternative Wild Western country. It touches on the #MeToo movement, economic disparity, and unjust laws. The strong female characters, with varying skin colors and hair textures, are all well drawn and complex. Their plight feels real, and their quest to escape is a page-turning roller coaster of action. This reviewer, however, never felt grounded in the imaginative world, as if some of the fantastical elements, specifically the ghosts, were more of a device to amp up the tension rather than integral to the story. The ending is also somewhat unsatisfying with many dangling loose ends, as if a sequel is in the offing. That said, most readers will overlook such criticism for the action, suspense, and the story itself, which is well conceived.