First published back in May of 2017, British author Jonathan Butcher’s novella ‘What Good Girls Do’ offered up a tough and uncompromising vision of cruelty in an all-too-real horror.

DLS Synopsis:
The room was all she’d ever known.  A dank red-brick-walled room of perhaps twenty by thirty feet.  The ceiling a mesh of bare pipes; the hard, cold floor covered in kitchen-style floor tiles.  The room was her entire world.  She’d knew of nothing else.  Just this one room, and everything that her Daddy and all the other Daddies did to her in it.

Her Daddy brought her food and read books to her.  He said he was keeping her safe.  That’s what Daddies do.

She’d spend her days watching her films.  Watching the girls being Good Girls, like she was for her Daddy.  Gagging on the cocks.  Being chocked and beaten, swallowing what they’re made to, and accepting whoever or whatever wanted to penetrate them.

This was her life.  Her entire existence.  She had no name.  Good Girls didn’t need names.  Just like Good Girls didn’t need clothes.

But she wasn’t always Good.  She knew that watching the Other Film was Bad.  That her Daddy would be angry if he knew she had it.  If he knew she watched it.  But she couldn’t help it.  The Other Film said Daddies shouldn’t fuck Girls like they do, and that if a Girl says “No” it means that the Daddy should stop.

Watching the Other Film made her feel Bad.  But it made her feel strong as well.  Strong like she shouldn’t have to feel so much pain.  Strong like her Daddy should leave her cunt and tight little ass alone.  And all of a sudden she’s fighting back.  Stopping her Daddy from hurting her.  Making the red stuff come out of him.  And making him go to sleep, and never wake up again.

Today is the day this nameless Girl will see the outside world for the first time.  Today is the day when she will glimpse a life outside of a small, dank, sound-proofed room in the basement.  Today is the day when she will stand up against the Daddies.  Today is the day when the Daddies will no longer be able to hurt her.  Today is the day she fights back. 

Today is the day…

DLS Review:
Fuck fuck fuck.  You know, I need to start this review off with a strong warning.  If you haven’t guessed it already, Butcher’s ‘What Good Girls Do’ is one hard-hitting and utterly uncompromising read, depicting graphic scenes of strong sexual violence throughout.  The subject matter is one that’s incredibly difficult to stomach.  It’s in the same sort of hellish ballpark as the likes of Jack Ketchum’s ‘The Girl Next Door’ (1989), Mendal Johnson’s ‘Let’s Go Play At the Adams’’ (1974), Wayne Simmons’ ‘The Girl In The Basement’ (2014) or James McCulloch’s ‘Little Girl Black’ (2016) – only with sexual violence ramped-up to gut churning proportions.

I kid you not, this shit is beyond intense.  The sexual depravity on show is edging towards all that fucked-up shit in Samuel R. Delany’s infamous cesspit of depravity ‘Hogg’ (1995).  However, the sexual abuse depicted in Butcher’s novella is far worse.  Where the depravity in ‘Hogg’ (1995) is mostly consensual, in ‘What Good Girls Do’ it’s something far from so.  Instead what we have is a victim who knows no different.  Whose entire life so far has been one of unending abuse and suffering.

I guess one of the hardest aspects of the tale to swallow is how real the horror is.  You only have to look at what Joseph Fritzl or Wolfgang Prikopil did to see that Butcher’s story of sexual abuse and depravity is in fact a terrifyingly close approximation to the reality of our world.  This shit happens.  Such twisted mother fuckers are really out there.  It scares the hell out of me.  It makes me want to hold on to my family and never let them go.

Author Jonathan Butcher tells the story via two different perspectives – that of the Girl and the next-door neighbour - Serenity.  The chapters go back and forth between the two, affording the reader a unique view of the escalating situation, from both an internal perspective (that of the Girl) and more of an external perspective (that of the neighbour).  However there’s much more to it than that.  Through these two individuals, with their polar opposite lives, Butcher is able to expose a host of tough questions that will twist your guts as you try to make sense of them.

I can’t stress enough how brutal this story is.  It grabs you by the gut and drags you down into a spiralling pit of hurt, shame and a heart-wrenching feeling of desperate helplessness.  The more you read the tale, the more weighed down with suffocating emotions you become.  As a man myself, I began to feel a tremendous sense of shame and utter loathing for my sex.  A white hot anger swelled deep within me.  A searing, irrepressible anger that Butcher somehow nurtures within you throughout the length of the tale.  Like with Meir Zarchi’s classic video nasty ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ (1978), it’s a mounting rage that swarms its way to the surface, desperately seeking a justifiable release.  A release through vengeance-fuelled violence.

However the real strength in the novella isn’t in its unflinching brutality, or in its uncompromising desire to delve deeper into the darkest of reaches.  Rather, it lies in the prose, the gut-wrenching, soul-destroying delivery of the characters’ thoughts and dialogue.  The Girl – the poor nameless victim of the tale – has such a small window of what life is.  Her entire upbringing is one constructed from the sexual abuse she’s suffered.  To her men are all Daddies.  And Daddies fuck Good Girls.

Every experience for her is expressed through what she knows of life.  She can count to fifteen because her Daddy gave her a film where fifteen men count as they take it in turns pissing on a girl.  If someone’s eyes tear up, she equates it to having a thick cock shoved down their throat.  If something feels weird, it’s akin to feeling one of those buzzing toys Daddy puts inside her.  Everything from the Girl’s perspective is viewed like this.  And word by word, it cuts you down.

Butcher’s also kept a very keen eye on the details.  It’s an aspect that makes the piece so head-poundingly believable.  This is the first time the Girl has stepped foot outside this one small room.  She’s never encountered stairs before.  Never felt carpet under her feet.  Never seen windows, the sky, the sun, grass…all of it is new to her.  Butcher has recognised this, and through the eyes of the Girl, describes experiencing these and the big wide world for the first time.  The experience is a sensory overload.  An explosion of imagery you, the reader, are made to piece together, made to make sense of by putting these frantic descriptions against your own understanding of the real world.  The end result is incredible.  It works so well.  You’ll feel your heart thumping away in your mouth as the Girl tries to take it all in.  The intensity of it all, of that moment of escape, is both breath-taking and emotionally crippling beyond all comprehension.

Furthermore, there are so many other well-thought-out details to the story and its delivery.  Emphasising certain words through capitalising them – such as Good, Bad, Daddy and Girl.  Each time these simple words are read it’s like a nail is shoved deep into your already aching heart.  And to hear the Girl try to make sense of life using these simplistic terms, to try to make sense of her abuse, to try to make everything right – to scratch the Bad away – it physically pains you.

Not since reading Ketchum’s ‘The Girl Next Door’ (1989) has my heart cried out for a victim so much.  In the midst of the furious anger, the hurt, pain and desperate sense of helplessness that crushed the breath out of me, I felt a rising need to see this pan out.  I ached for vengeance to rescue me from this swirling maelstrom of soul-sucking hurt.  I needed something to cling to.  Something to wrench me out of this Armageddon of a nihilistic headfuck.

Without some degree of justice, however small or twisted, I’m not sure I could have made it into work after putting down the book.  Butcher throws you a line of barbed wire to hoist you out of the hellhole.  But you’ve got to drag yourself out of the pit.  You’ve got to claw at whatever you can to get out from the cloying abyss that’s dragging you down.  And it hurts every fucking step of the way.  But you’ll get there.  Breathless and gasping for air, you’ve get there.

To say Jonathan Butcher’s ‘What Good Girls Do’ is a powerfully evocative read is like announcing that Hitler was a bit of a bad man.  It not so much beats you down, as pass you the knife and encourage you to carve out everything inside of you that makes you a living, breathing person.  It hurts to read this book.  It slices cold steel into your nerve endings.  It makes you question so much about your life.  About your sexual drives.  About the inherent desires in men.  In all men.

This is the coldest, most soul-destroying of horrors.  There is no enjoyment to be garnered from this book.  No entertainment to be sought from the depravities uncovered.  It’s a novel that’ll expose more hurt than you can imagine.  Page by page it peels back your flesh, reaching in deep and wrenching the fuck out of your insides.

Afterwards you’ll feel nothing but cold.  Emotionally drained and cold.

The novella runs for a total of 137 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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