In this ambitious, uneven debut, the historical Old West–flavored landscape of post–Empire Arketta sets the stage for monstrous spirits, men who trade their humanity for power, and shadowless girls with cursed tattoos called favors. When Clementine accidentally kills her first client at the Green Creek brothel, her older sister, Aster, springs into action, and alongside Clem’s best friends, transforms Clem’s accident into a shot at freedom. Sycophantic, cold Violet, the only girl there with a shadow, begs to join them, promising to lead the way to a legendary woman who can remove their favors. On their journey to find Lady Ghost and evade their cruel pursuers, the girls must decide how far they’ll go to try to escape their past. While many of the characters lack depth, Aster shines as a protagonist who harnesses her trauma and anger in a world in which her past is literally indelible. And while the plot relies on some contrivance and is sometimes overshadowed by the intricate worldbuilding, Davis creates institutions, systems, and power dynamics with real-world echoes, making the themes timely and resonant. Ages 13–up. Agent: Allison Hellegers, Rights People. (Oct.)
Don't underestimate the girls in the Arkettan welcome houses because you might just lose your life. Davis' The Good Luck Girls is a dust-filled, bloody fairytale set in a menacing world haunted with the reminderthe price of freedom is high, but it's worth fighting for at all costs. Rise up, teen readers!” Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles
“The Good Luck Girls plays in familiarity, but never feels familiar. I loved how frequently I was shocked, surprised, and delighted by this book, its incredible (and mega queer!) cast of characters, and the effortless way Davis unfolds a sprawling and at times frightening story. An ambitious, thoughtful debut that’ll leave you wanting more.” Mark Oshiro, author of Anger is a Gift
“A book about the bonds of sisterhood and found family, and about fear and loss and the courage to forge your own destiny despite the odds!” Rin Chupeco, author of The Bone Witch
“A Western for the modern age, Good Luck Girls has rich, complicated characters, with flaws that make them lovable and real, who are fighting for something we all believe in. I, for one, can't wait to see what's in store next for Aster and her sisters by choice.” Lauren Shippen, author of The Infinite Noise
“This one is a winner.”Kirkus (starred review)
“This first installment in a new fantasy adventure is perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. ...Teen readers will devour this romp set in a fantastical Wild West–style world, filled with a diverse cast of strong female leads.” School Library Journal
“This dystopian debut is deeply connected to today’s social issues, and readers will feel that impact.” Booklist
“Davis creates institutions, systems, and power dynamics with real-world echoes, making the themes timely and resonant ” Publishers Weekly
“The gunslinging, hard-riding action of a classic Western is balanced against heavy but effective commentary on class and gender to make a story that is by turns heart pounding and thought-provoking.” Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Gr 10 Up—This first installment in a new fantasy adventure is perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. The story is told from two sisters' alternating points of view. The sisters were sold at a young age to a "Welcome House" and were destined for a life of sex work. But after the younger sister accidentally kills a customer, the girls take off with three other "Good Luck Girls." Pursued by law enforcement and supernatural forces, they must survive at all costs. Some readers may be overwhelmed with the large cast introduction and world-building early in the novel, but things speed up as the plot progresses. The various romances and supernatural aspects of this book may deter some readers since there is already so much going on with fleshing out the characters' backstories. The romances are somewhat rushed and lack development, seeming to appear out of nowhere. However, the overarching themes of equality between genders and socioeconomic classes will keep readers rooting for the heroes. Fans will, undoubtedly, have many questions at the end of the novel and will be anxious for the next installment. VERDICT Teen readers will devour this romp set in a fantastical Wild West–style world, filled with a diverse cast of strong female leads.—Melanie Leivers, Burnhaven Library, Burnsville, MN
In an alternate Wild West, five girls are on the run.
On the night of her sister's debut into the world of prostitution, Aster tells Clementine to think of a song to distract herself. They are Good Luck Girls, indentured sex workers from poor, sharecropping families of a social underclass known as dustbloods. There is no outward difference between a dustblood and a fairblood, but generations ago, dustbloods had their shadows torn away, and since then their children have been born without them. When Clementine accidentally murders her first "brag," or customer, Aster knows they must run for it. In seeking help, she unwittingly recruits three other girls itching to escape, and the five head north, where fairblood Violet insists a woman named Lady Ghost can help by removing their favors, mystical tattoos applied to the throats of Good Luck Girls that cannot be disguised. And thus begins their adventure, which also involves robbing men who deserve it and having to avoid vicious ghosts called vengeants and soulless, evil club bouncers/bounty hunters called raveners. Inventive language and outlaw girls are nothing new in Westerns, but debut author Davis' richly imagined setting goes deeper than that, questioning the difference between ethics and law, exploring the complexity of socio-economic advantage and disadvantage, and exposing the lengths men will go to control and constrain women. Characters have varying shades of skin, from light to dark, and hair of different colors and textures.
This one is a winner. (Speculative adventure. 14-adult)