Ginger Nuts of Horror
The horror genre is a many-faceted beast. You can have, among many other facets, your feel-good adventure stories where the hero fights the monster and gets the girl, you can have your subtle, multi-layered story whose aim is to make you look at the human condition, or you can have a story that is designed to shock, and make you feel uncomfortable.
Jonathan Butcher's What Good Girls Do is firmly rooted in that last category, this is not a story for those feint of heart, or easily offended. It is a story that pushed me as a reader, one that almost made me put the book aside and pretend that I had never laid eyes on it. This is not one of those warnings designed to make the book sound nastier than it is, What Good Girls Do is one of the hardest books I have ever read, but is it a book that is worth reading? Read on to find out what I thought.
What Good Girls Do, doesn't waste any time in shocking the reader, the girl in question has been kidnapped and is being abused and tortured sexually, in the most extreme ways, and the reader is subjected to this right on the first page. It's a bold move, one that will cause many readers to put the book aside in disgust, hell I almost did. Butcher has, like her captor, stripped the girl of all identity, she is reduced to a mere cypher, no name, a very basic description of her looks, it is clear that she is nothing more than a commodity from which he can make money from and abuse in ways which will make you cringe with disgust.
Her use of the word "Daddy" to describe her captor, is both chilling and heart wrenching, it's not made clear in the early stages of this novella to her actual age, which adds an extra layer of tragedy to story. Not that what happens her would be anything less no matter her age. You are left feeling like a nasty voyeur, who can't tear their eyes away from the events of the book, transfixed at what is happening and silently screaming for someone to make it all stop.
The descriptions of the events that unfold are brutal, nihilistic and downright disgusting, but Butcher has an ability to keep the reader in the palm of his hand, despite the events of the book, you will find that you become trapped like a twig in a never ending whirlpool of depravity and despair.
Butcher is an incredibly talented writer, in the hands of a lesser writer, this novella would have caused me to go on a rant about empty shocks at the expensive of a real story, but Butcher knows how to draw the reader in the, especially during the home invasion scenes of the novella. Butcher's decimation of suburban middle-class bliss is a masterclass in narrative rhythm.
What Good Girls Dois not a story for everyone, it's clever mix of a Serbian Film and Jack Ketchum's The Woman, it will leave you angry, cold and little dead inside, but never the less it is a story worth reading.
'Like all the best extreme horror, What Good Girls Do leaves you with the urge to go and bleach your soul after reading...'
Alex Davis, creator of Film Gutter
She lives with no name.
She has never left her room.
All she has ever known is pain and abuse.
Today, she will breathe fresh air for the first time, feel sunshine against her skin and even witness human kindness.
But she has a point to make – a bleak, violent point – and when she meets her neighbour, Serenity, she finds the perfect pupil.
Forced to endure a lesson distilled from a nightmarish existence, Serenity must face unflinching evil, witness the unspeakable, and question her most deeply-held views, until at last she has no choice but to fight for her family’s survival.