Title: Ballad for a Mad Girl
Author: Vikki Wakefield
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Publisher: Test Publishing
Date published: May 29th 2017
Page Count: 301
Source: ARC via Netgalley
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?
This was a story about a girl who tries to solve a twenty-year-old mystery while dealing with a ghost lurking around and within her.
It is told in the perspective of Grace Foley. One night when she goes to walk the pipe, one of the events where the rival schools compete in. She’s done it a million times before, but this night, something goes wrong.
Soon she is convinced that she is possessed by the twenty year old spirit of Hannah Holt and must solve her disappearance in order to be freed from her ghost. But when she tries to tell her friends, they don’t know whether to take it as another of her pranks. With no one on her side, she’s left to solve the mystery on her own.
Through the book, I started to question what I was reading. I mean, it seemed like Grace’s life was starting to fall apart in any way possible, and I couldn’t tell whether this was her doing or some ghost’s. She definitely started out as an unreliable narrator, and it was hard to tell the truth from the lies.
I honestly trudged through three-quarters of the book. There was so much filler on Grace’s school, and friend, and family issues. I mean, who really cares about Grace’s missing axolotls (I’m sorry, but really). Maybe it was just me, but the mystery element also just didn’t engage me at all. It felt like Grace was just going everywhere for answers and never getting a clear lead. It was only for the last fifty pages where things began to kick off.
I won’t deny that I found the ending satisfying. It was and wasn’t what you were expecting. Honestly, while I wasn’t that attached to Grace or her friends, I really kept thinking about the fate of Hannah and William and how things could have been different. In fact, I think I kept going with the book because I wanted to find out what happened to Hannah. At least Grace’s discovery did not disappoint.
I may have not enjoyed the book as much since it wasn’t really been up my alley. But the main issue for me was the lack of suspense and rapid heart beating.