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FTN Review: Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley

September 30th, 2014 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

ISBN: 978-1-941987-11-7  (trade paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-941987-12-4 (hardback; signed and limited to 100 copies)
ISBN: Pending (ePub)
ASIN (Amazon): B00O09PQDS

BRYONY ADAMS IS DESTINED TO BE MURDERED, but fortunately Fate has terrible marksmanship. In order to survive, she must run as far and as fast as she can. After arriving in Seattle, Bryony befriends a tortured musician, a market fish-thrower, and a starry-eyed hero who is secretly a serial killer bent on fulfilling Bryony’s dark destiny.

Mercedes M. Yardley’s Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is a dark, lovely fairy tale with lyrical language and a high body count. It features a cover by Hugo Award Winner GALEN DARA.


Let’s start with the obvious: “Pretty Little Dead Girls” is a novel that you have to hit the ground running with.  The main character, Bryony Adams, is born knowing that she is going to die, a fact that everyone around her knows too.  You just have to accept that this is so and, like the characters themselves, live with it.  It isn’t explained how, or why, this is going to happen, or how she knows, and the people around her – even strangers – know.  They just do.  It isn’t explained why people automatically see her as fragile, ethereal and ephemeral either; they just do.  If you can accept that then you will be drawn into a mesmerizing world of whimsical and fantastical characters.  A world that is filled with emotions but hopeful and horrific.  A world that is typical of the creative mind of Mercedes M. Yardley.

I have to be honest and say that, for a moment, I struggled with this book.  I wanted to know why Bryony was slated for death.  I wanted to know how people knew that the Fates were out to get her.  Then something happened: the narration, the prose, and even the characters themselves drew me in and snared me deep.  Mercedes’ narrator – one of the best characters in the book in my opinion – weaved a web of wondrous words and told me that everything would be ok, that I didn’t need to know the why or how as long as I just sat back and read the what.  That what was a tale of loneliness, love, despair, hope, and yes death.

This is a beautifully written story, a wonderfully eccentric story, and it is one that is handled exceptionally well by Yardely.  What could be twee or trite elsewhere is believable and quirky. The characters are filled with life and speak with individual voices. They live in real life but never become mundane as though it is a story set in ‘reality’ this is as much a fairy tale as anything that you’d have read as a child – as long as what you were read was Grimm.  This is the best parts of The Princess Bride or Labyrinth without ever being a copy; softly inspired, perhaps, but never trying to be anything other than itself.

Ultimately this book may be marmite – some will love it and others will hate it but no-one will read it and simply forget it.  It is too clever in how it balances whimsy with death.  On how it is a book that starts with despair in knowing that you will die but showing how hope lasts throughout that – despite that.

I hate marmite but I love this book.

I hope that you will too.

Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley is available now.


I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.