Book Review: Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
When doing market research for Guns & Smoke, I came across this novel. From the blurb and the cover, it felt like a western-inspired story that could be a great comp title for G&S.
The Good Luck Girls, as they're known, don't really have good luck.
Poverty is very present in the land of Arketta. In order to make shine--the currency of this world--some families sell their daughters to the welcome houses (in other words, brothels). They're compensated and told the girls will have the best care--food, medical treatment, safety.
These girls work in the welcome houses until they come of age. Then they're auctioned off to the highest bidder and become staples in the welcome houses.
The first chapter is from the perspective of Clementine--one such girl who has just been auctioned off. Spoiler alert: it doesn't go well.
The next chapter changes to the perspective of Aster, Clem's sister, and it goes back to before the events of the first chapter. We see how Aster, who is older than Clem, has already gone through this and been a full servicing member of the welcome house. We see her try to shield her sister and prepare her as best she can.
Then, she discovers her sister has murdered the man who bought her for the night.
Clementine will be killed. It doesn't matter who the brag was, she is property of the welcome house and her services were bought and paid for.
Aster, of course, wants to save her younger sister. Though she's often thought about escaping, there are things in play that make that hard--namely the raveners, who can manipulate and place fear in the minds of others as a means of control, and their favors, tattoos that were inked into their skin as soon as they joined the welcome house that have bloomed and grown as the girls age. These mark the women as property, and if they try to cover it, it causes such blinding pain.
In order to save her sister, Aster coordinates a getaway from the welcome house, along with three of the other girls on the promise that Lady Ghost--a myth--could remove their favors.
This novel was really good. I read it over a couple of days. I wasn't completely able to get grounded in the world from the start, and there were some confusing elements--dustbloods versus fairbloods, but I really enjoyed it. I would like to see more written in this world. It didn't really have any romance, but I actually thought that was fitting, since the story was told from Aster's perspective and I don't know that that's something Aster wanted, especially not where she was when the story started.