Moth Girls
PublisherHot Key Books
Date Published31 December 2015
Price£ 6.99

Moth Girls

by Anne Cassidy

Five years ago, Petra and Tina disappeared. Now their friend Mandy has to face up to the part she played in events.


When Petra Armstrong and Tina Pointer disappeared, for several crucial hours their friend Mandy stayed silent about where she’d last seen them. The girls had developed a fascination for the strange, dilapidated old house owned by an old man who never seemed to go outside and, for a dare, had decided to go into the house.

Mandy chickened out at the last moment and left Petra and Tina to go in by themselves, but when the police started looking for the two girls, she kept their secret, but when she did finally break down and confess, the old man was found dead in the house and there was no sign of her friends.

For the past five years, with Petra and Tina presumed dead, Mandy has had to carry that guilt with her as she tries to get on with her life. When her school decides to hold a memorial for the girls, Mandy does her best to keep those feelings buried. Then, a chance encounter outside the site of the now-demolished house turns everything Mandy had ever believed on its head and opens old wounds.

I followed Anne Cassidy’s earlier series, The Murder Notebooks, through four audiobooks, so when Moth Girls came along, I jumped on it and wasn’t disappointed. Her teenagers come over as wholly authentic, struggling with their friendships and family relationships in a way that will strike a chord with anyone who remembers being the outsider in a group.

Mandy is desperate to be accepted into the tight-knit friendship of Petra and Tina, and would like nothing more than to be accepted into their girl band, The Red Roses. But Petra thinks she’s trying to muscle in, and wants to keep Tina’s friendship to herself, as her only escape from a grim home life in a grotty flat with a father who struggles with anger management issues.

Moth Girls is a sharp look at the sometimes cruel reality of teenage friendships and the even crueller reality of a girl desperate to remain with what’s left of her family, even though that brings with it the ever-present threat of violence. Cassidy’s writing is crisp, and she handles the very different perspectives of the girls deftly, never letting them become indistinguishable as the story behind the disappearance gradually unfolds.

I really cared about what happened to these girls, and when an author is able to pull that off, I know a book has worked its magic.

Reviewed 14 May 2016 by Linda Wilson