Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield
Published May 29, 2017 by Text Publishing
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything—except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe. That night she experiences something she can’t explain.
The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions—but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf.
As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined—all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price.
Everything about her is changing—her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness?

Ballad for a Mad Girl is Vikki Wakefield's fourth YA novel. Set in the small, rural town of Swanston (nicknamed Swamp Town), we meet seventeen-year-old Grace Foley. Grace grew up on the family farm but after the death of her mother, her father moved Grace and her older brother to a house in town. Since then they just coexist. Grace feels suffocated by her father's rules, and breaks free by entertaining her friends with pranks and stunts, many involving the local gorge.

Grace's personality is so clear, right from the first page. She's mad, she's hurt, she's fed up with the life her father is trying to make them live. She doesn't want to live in a small house, she wants her life to go back to the way it was. Back when her mother was alive. To take her mind off things, Grace spends as much time with her friends as possible, but even then, things are changing. Her best friend Kenzie is dating Mitch and Grace won't accept being third wheel. She feels rejected, left out, left behind.

There is a horror element to this story, but it's just the right amount for someone like me who doesn't really do horror (unless it's reading a Stephen King novel during daylight hours.) The opening scene gave a subtle nod to King's novel, Carrie, and from then Vikki Wakefield wove the atmosphere in a way only she can do. There was a growing sense of unease and suspicion. There was a touch of unreliability, mystery, and an ominous history. All of this building to a climax I could not predict. The story was so intriguing I found it easy to immerse myself in Grace's life, to go along on her journey for the truth.

Vikki Wakefield excels at writing about loneliness and small towns, two things that are a major component of this new book. She also tackles grief in a sensitive way, showing how much Grace hurts and the lengths she'll go to to avoid her feelings.

Beautifully written, chilling and atmospheric, Ballad for a Mad Girl is a story with heart, horror, and hope.

Thank you to Text Publishing for my copy.


  1. Nice to hear your thoughts on it.

  2. I saw this review of yours pop up on Goodreads not too long ago! I was going to comment there but I'll do it here. :) This really does sound amazing, and if I didn't already know about this book (and have a copy of it from the library) I would be adding it to the TBR right this moment. I'm glad that you said it wasn't so scary that you were overwhelmed, that it was just the right amount. I'm not good with horror at all, having only read maybe like 2-3 books that had horror elements in it. I loved Vikki Wakefield's debut, and her writing style is so beautiful. I'm sure to love this too when I get around to reading it. Thanks for the review!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

  3. Vikki is brilliant at rural/small town settings and creating the most amazing, absorbing characters. I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I cannot wait to read it!

    P.S I can't do horror either!


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