Cover of The Lost Girls, featuring a white girl with frizzy hair, a studded choker, and bloody vampire fangs

About the Book

Title: The Lost Girls
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Bitey Big Face
BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia
Talky Talk: Feminist Vengeance
Bonus Factors: Friendships, Vampires, Just Desserts
Relationship Status: When’s Initiation?

Content Warning: The Lost Girls includes scenes of emotional manipulation, gore, death (at the hands of vampires, so … bloody), and dismemberment.

Cover Story: Bitey Big Face

I don’t always love a Big Face Cover, but when it’s done right … I love the composition of this one, the loveliness of the girl, and the way the various elements capture the main character’s looks and personality. The neck/chest feel a bit flat when compared to the face, but that’s just a nitpick.

The Deal: 

Holly Liddel is 16 … and has been 16 for more than thirty years, when her boyfriend, Elton, turned her into a vampire after making promises of an eternity of bliss. But then he got bored, and left her in a parking lot in Tulsa. Holly, compelled to follow Elton wherever he goes, returns to her hometown to find that she’s not the last in Elton’s line of girlfriends, nor is she the first.

Together with Ida and Rose, the two young women who came before her, Holly must work to protect his latest interest, a young woman named Parker, and figure out how to stop his endless games once and for all.

BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia

BFF charm with Natalie Imbruglia's face.

Holly’s a great person with a lot of redeeming qualities. But she’s also … a vampire. Who has a code for who she kills, mind you—she tries to only kill predatory men, which, awesome—but she’s still a vampire. If I could get past the major case of The Creeps which vampires in Hartl’s universe seems to cause folks of the living variety, I’d totally want to give her a BFF charm. But I’d still be awfully preoccupied with making sure I never did anything to give her reason to just have a little taste.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Holly spent far too long “in love” with Elton to have experienced much in the way of romance, and being turned into a vampire has somewhat limited her dating pool. But as soon as Parker smiles at her, Holly begins to realize that she’s not totally out of the game, even if she is, technically, dead. But with Elton figuratively hanging over their heads, and Holly not wanting to doom Parker to a life of endless teenagerdom, feelings might not be enough.

Talky Talk: Feminist Vengeance

The Lost Girls could have easily turned into—and might have, had another author had this same idea—into a story about the viciousness of young women and their frequent (stereotypical) betrayal of each other over a(n unworthy) boy. Instead, Hartl gave us a much more realistic vision of young women, albeit with vampires, who band together to right a wrong, seeing their differences as strengths and relying on each other to achieve an end goal. It’s empowering while being somewhat unsettling—these vampires don’t have the same moral compass as us living folk—and Hartl’s depiction of Holly and the rest of her (eventual) coven had me rooting for the “evil” creatures who turned out to be way more nuanced than anyone might think. (An allegory for the complexity of young women, for sure!)

Bonus Factor: Friendships

Characters from Baby-Sitters' Club show sitting on a bed talking and laughing.

When Ida and Rose first meet up with Holly, she’s not sure that she can trust them. What they say, particularly about Elton’s shittiness, makes complete sense to her, but there’s a part of her that will always be connected to the jerk. So the idea of killing him is hard, at first. But the three soon form a strong bond that’s based on more than just their mutual hatred of their maker. 

And then there’s Stacey, Holly’s BFF in life and the only person she’s ever turned. They haven’t spoken in decades, and Stacey’s rightly mad about how she was pretty much forced into the vampiric life. She and Holly have to work through some issues, but it’s really great to read about friends who can overcome some really huge issues to find their way back to a good path.

Bonus Factor: Vampires

Screenshot from Interview with a Vampire, with Lestat and Louis facing off

Hartl’s vampires are delightfully normal. None of the “traditional” myths are true of them: they don’t mind sunlight, garlic has no effect on them, and they can’t be killed by stakes. They’re cold, sure, and give off definite “don’t mess with us” vibes and drink blood to survive. But the rest of the mythos surrounding them, and how they’re made, is fresh and fun. I applaud Hartl for playing with the expected and giving us something more.

Relationship Status: When’s Initiation?

I might not be ready to join the land of the non-living, Book, but I am definitely ready to join your girl gang. Vampires have to need living folk for some purpose—other than drinking—right? I’m an old; I could certainly help them get past some of the issues they have with looking eternally 16. I just know I have something to give to the cause!

Literary Matchmaking

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is another vampire book that turns the genre on its head.

The Nowhere Girls

Amy Reed’s The Nowhere Girls is another first-pumping tale of a group of young women who join together to right wrongs (of stupid dudes).


And Julia Ember’s Ruinsong features two (female) characters who have to overcome great odds to be together.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Page Street Kids, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Lost Girls will be available Sept. 14.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.