A stack of 3 closed books (left); an open notebook with a pen on top (right). Title: 12 Novels Thata Changed How I Read Fiction

#4 “The Church of Dead Girls” by Stephen Dobyns

Related Posts:

Thanks to these two bloggers for sponsoring the annual Blog Discussion Challenge:

A cartoon with a stack of books between a bluebird and a fox. Text: 2024 Discussion Challenge

#4 The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns

© 1997

Date read: 9/23/1997

I used to think that the most important consideration in any work of fiction is, hands down, point of view. But this novel made me realize that context is just as important. A first-person narrator tells this story, about three girls killed in a small town. As the search for the killer ratchets up tension in the town, local residents become suspicious on one another and begin to turn on their neighbors.

The novel deals not only with the credibility of the narrator, but also with the manifestations of fear, paranoia, and mob mentality. If Shirley Jackson had melded her novella We Have Always Lined in the Castle with her short story “The Lottery,” the result would probably have been similar to this novel. Dobyns uses his cultural context to examine the deepest, darkest regions of the human psyche, and both the context and the first-person point of view are necessary to the novel’s emotional impact.

© 2024 by Mary Daniels Brown

I'd love to hear from you!

Discover more from Notes in the Margin

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top