The Thirteenth Girl
June 28, 2022

Book Review

The Thirteenth Girl

reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo



“Although force is often used, it is not essential. Many cults woo their victims with love, rather than brutality.”

Kathleen Taylor, Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control

Having read Stranded last year and declaring it one of my favorite books, I was so excited to read this new one by Sarah Goodwin, and it does not disappoint. Sarah has a way of pulling you into her novel from the first page. And keeps you mesmerized throughout. Much like her previous novel, nothing is what it seems. With an unreliable narrator, and questionable characters, I wondered what I was going to find out next. 

Lucy Townsend is recently married to Marshall, a wealthy counsellor. Much to her surprise, she becomes pregnant fairly quickly. Having had a terrible role model as a mother, she is not keen on having this child. Lucy’s childhood memories are somewhat faded, but she remembers being saved from a fire when she was just seven years old. She also remembers the ones who did not survive and their cries for help. When Marshall’s parents hear she is pregnant, they are surprised and delighted. His father is an MP and they are wealthy and well known in the community. Lucy has been keeping some big secrets about her past and when a rookie journalist exposes her past, the article threatens everything Lucy has. The publicity is not good and Lucy’s in-laws are not happy. Marshall and his parents decide that the best thing to do is to send Lucy away until the press settles down.

Lucy and her friend Ellie arrive at the hideaway and she immediately realizes how close it is to the house she grew up in that burned down. With nothing to do for the foreseeable future, she decides to investigate her past. Amid exploring what is left of her old home, she falls and breaks her leg. This is really when this incredible book begins. We learn so much more about Lucy and the cult she grew up in, what happened to her mother, and everyone else that survived the massive fire. 

The ending was wonderful and wrapped the story up nicely. As the reader, I loved how Sarah Goodwin did not make Lucy superhuman, but let her actually struggle and then struggle again. I enjoy books where nothing is as it seems and The Thirteenth girl did not disappoint. I could not put this one down. Even down to the minute details, it all has shades of not being the truth. An amazing follow-up to her debut novel. I can’t wait to see more from this author. 

The Thirteenth Girl is available at:


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