The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst
THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS
The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.
When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.
It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.
The Good Luck Girls is angry, it’s desperate, and it’s alive.
Starring a diverse cast of girls who make the terrifying choice to escape the fates literally branded onto their skin, The Good Luck Girls is a furious blend of fantasy and Western that drew me in from the start. Ripe with the potential for peak found family, teasing of enemies to lovers, and absolutely burning with a righteous anger and its echo of fear, it was never going to be anything but a roaring ride from start to finish.
Following five girls as they escape from a welcome house after one of their number does the unthinkable and kills a man she’s supposed to service, The Good Luck Girls explores a harsh country and the monsters that stalk it day and night. More than that, it explores what people can do in the face of injustice, especially acting together as one, rather than alone.
Every page has a new turn, every chapter reveals a new corner of an injured heart, and by the end, I knew I needed more. Thank goodness this is the first in a series, right?
In a dusty land overrun by ghosts and cruel magic, these girls will do anything it takes to survive.
One of the strongest elements of this book, one I absolutely have to highlight, is the setting and its associated world-building. Arketta is a dusty place meant to evoke some historical Western image. Riddled with dangerous landscapes, powerful and wealthy men who’d never blink before stepping on the backs of others, and the lure of hidden places among old mines and towering mountains, it’s a world unto itself, even though it’s only a single country in a broader world.
And its massive, almost terrifying nature is due in part to three things. First of all is the girls’ collective inexperience with life anywhere but Arketta, anywhere but the Scab region. They’ve barely known a world beyond the welcome house walls, and the enormity of it is overwhelming, even when they feel like they know a path forward. And second, of course, is the presence of men with more money than conscience, men who think nothing of abusing those without the power to fight back. These men form the greatest dangers of Arketta in the daytime, wielding their influence with deadly aim even as the girls have so little to defend themselves with.
Third, though, adding an element of the fantastic to Arketta, are the ghosts. Spirits of the deceased in Arketta are divided into multiple categories, with certain ghosts drifting peacefully while others are held at bay only by a kind of stone called theomite. Without that stone, they tear people to shreds in the most literal sense, violent and nearly inescapable. While The Good Luck Girls doesn’t address all facets of the ghosts, nor Clementine’s particular abilities regarding them, it introduces a tantalizing fantasy element that makes the world its own.
“But I’ll be damned if I’ll accept that wickedness is what it takes to survive this life.”
I specifically said that the setting was “one of the strongest” things about The Good Luck Girls because there’s something even stronger: the cast. And what a treat this cast was! Aster, naturally was my favorite, since she assumes the role of leader and protector unwilling to leave her charges behind. I have the biggest weak spot for these defender types, especially when they’re doing it from a place of unconditional love, which is absolutely part of Aster’s cause. Almost everything she does, she does to protect Clementine, her little sister, and she aches when she can’t stop the pain from coming.
And Clementine herself, though young and somewhat naive, is particularly endearing. Her bond with Aster is so full of trust and hope that I may have gotten a little extra mushy (I react…strongly to stories with little siblings trusting so completely in their older siblings, okay?), and her gradual growth into a girl who’s learning to stand on her own makes me want to cry both out of happiness and concern.
As for our other three leads, I LOVED Tansy and Mallow’s relationship (it’ll be a smash hit for you friends to lovers sapphics out there), and I couldn’t help but be fascinated by Violet, aloof and condescending as she could be. They didn’t receive quite as much focus as Aster and Clementine, but I’m hoping to see more of them in the sequel, especially Violet, who might just be the enemies to lovers slow burn love interest I CRAVE in sapphic stories.
I can’t recommend The Good Luck Girls enough, especially since its drawbacks are so few in relation to its triumphs!
Truly, the only major disappointment I had was that The Good Luck Girls doesn’t contain a map. Which, in the end, isn’t necessarily within the author’s control. That said, a map of Arketta would have been such a boon while following the girls’ escape! I’m a very visual person, and love nothing more than finding a map on a book’s endpapers.
At the end of the day, though, that’s a small complaint for a book that otherwise delivers with aplomb. The Good Luck Girls has solidly landed a place on my favorites shelf, and when the next installment arrives, I can’t wait to see the people Aster and her fellow good luck girls become. 💛
CW: human trafficking, slavery, sexual assault, violence (including gun violence), suicide, drug use, addiction, graphic injury, loss of a loved one, medical scenes, self-harm, torture