Monday, November 05, 2012

Review by Carrie: Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

Review by Carrie from teabelly 

Katherine Patterson has moved to a new school to finish out her last year after a devastating family tragedy. She’s shaken off her old life – including her name – and is happy to go on being anonymous, when she’s befriended by the beautiful and fun Alice. Alice is an attention seeker with little conscience or thoughts of responsibility, but she draws Katherine in and helps her forget her sadness a little. Together with Alice’s on-off boyfriend, Robbie, they form a tight friendship, until Alice’s behaviour and cutting remarks start to grate on Katherine. Is Alice really all she seems?

This book is pretty dark in places, one of those that stayed with me for a while afterwards. Katherine’s family has suffered a terrible tragedy – the death of her sister Rachel in a horrific way. And it’s this death, and Katherine’s actions, that made me think the most. Would I have acted in the same way as Katherine? Should I judge her for getting into that situation in the first place? Can you blame her for doing what she had to do to survive?

The book flashes backwards and forwards throughout, and this can be a little confusing if you’re not paying attention, as there’s nothing to indicate the time frame. It begins a few years after the events with Alice, and checks in with this older version of Katherine as the novel goes on. Then there’s the central storyline of Katherine and Alice’s friendship and what that leads to, along with flashbacks to the day of Rachel’s death. It builds up to that slowly, revealing little pieces as it goes on, before giving the full, final story. I think this structure just about works, it allows the sense of foreboding to build, and allows us to see what happens to Katherine without drawing out the book.

I liked Katherine a lot, and even Alice in the beginning. Their friendship early on is very believable, fun but also with depth. There is a twist to the tale that I saw coming, but knowing where it was going just added to my dread.

Beautiful Malice is sad and harrowing and has a lot to say about grief, overcoming it, living with it, the guilt of being a survivor…I felt sorry for all Katherine went through, but I didn’t really feel sorry for her. She’s very strong and capable. She wants to let go and move on but doesn’t always know how.

I wouldn’t say the book is very original, and it does rely a lot on coincidence, but overall it was a gripping story with characters I cared about. I’m not sure I’d call it a ‘publishing sensation’, and nor do I get why it was the centre of a bidding war, but it’s a solid, enjoyable book.

Interesting! Thanks Carrie


  1. I love the name of the book. And it looks very interesting. The idea that your friends are not always who they seem they are. I have had the same experience, somehow. So, I think that I can relate to Katherine!
    Added to my TBR.
    GREAT review, Carrie and Clover!
    Your constant reader,

  2. Love this book. It's one of my faves!


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