Page Count 480
Publication date March 2021
Publisher Pushkin Press
Alexa Wú is a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her therapist Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella.
When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she is gradually drawn into London’s cruel underbelly. With lives at stake, Alexa follows her friend on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, she will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her biggest obstacle.
The Eighth Girl is told from two points of view; therapist Daniel and his patient Alexa who has disassociative identity disorder.
The way Cheung writes this book Alexa is the narrator and the original host of the body, all other personalities are shown using dialogue between them and Alexa, or whilst talking with Daniel in therapy.
I really liked the use of ornithology to give connotations of safety within the novel; Alexa refers to her multiple identities as ‘the flock’ who reside in ‘the nest’ of her mind.
I found each of the primary personalities to be endearing, they are created to protect one another and have a sisterly quality to the way they behave and engage with eachother.
Daniel’s plot accounts for a quarter of the book, and whilst it humanised the doctor to learn of his own history and relationships I found it wasn’t entirely necessary for the story. Mostly Daniel is a tool for outside observations of Alexa and the flock. A way to describe the nuance in physical behaviours between the identities.
This novel is a very dark venture into sexual abuse and other horrors. I was glued to Alexa, desperate for her to save her best friend Ella without losing her own mind in the process. The pace is maintained throughout with some brilliant revelations toward the finale, though prepare to find yourself shouting at the character’s naivety in places.
A great read from Pushkin Press.