Beautiful Malice


Author: Rebecca James

Publisher: Faber & Faber (2010)

Pages: 368

Synopsis: So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?

Following a terrible tragedy that leaves her once-perfect family shattered, Katherine Patterson moves to a new city, starts at a new school, and looks forward to a new life of quiet anonymity. But when Katherine meets the gregarious and beautiful Alice Parrie her resolution to live a solitary life becomes difficult. Katherine is unable resist the flattering attention that Alice pays her and is so charmed by Alice’s contagious enthusiasm that the two girls soon become firm friends. Alice’s joie de vivre is transformative; it helps Katherine forget her painful past and slowly, tentatively, Katherine allows herself to start enjoying life again.  But being friends with Alice is complicated – and as Katherine gets to know her better she discovers that although Alice can be charming and generous she can also be selfish and egocentric. Sometimes, even, Alice is cruel. And when Katherine starts to wonder if Alice is really the kind of person she wants as a friend, she discovers something else about Alice – she doesn’t like being cast off.


I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked it, but I feel that the most important events in it lack in explanation, like I waited the whole book to be elucidated and then nothing happened. But let’s start from the beginning shall we?

Beautiful Malice tells the story of Katherine, a seventeen-year-old who just moved to a new city and consequently to a new school. She’s a loner until the day the exuberant, loud, kind-of-crazy, extremely beautiful, and that you know will do something really bad and die for it (this isn’t an actual spoiler since the opening line of this book is I didn’t go to Alice’s funeral), (m)Alice invites her to her birthday party. After that they become close friends to the point Katherine trusts her with her demons: the family’s tragedy concerning Katherine’s baby sister Rachel. There’s a lot of mystery around this subject since the beginning, and Katherine surely takes her time before sharing with the reader what the (hell) happened (for pity’s sake!). Finally one discovers that it has to do with teenagers (and pre-teenagers, really) going wild with alcohol and getting a lift from strangers (you stupid, stupid, STUPID girls, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?), which makes needless to point out how bad this situation unfolds. But the mysteries don’t end up here, (I have to admit the author knows how to keep you hooked…) and now that that one is unveiled, you just want to know what’s the deal with Alice, what will that nutcase do, how will she die, and I’m betting all along it will be over the top tragic, chainsaw-messy, and that she’ll totally deserve it. It wasn’t.

In its whole this book kind of reminded me of a thriller/suspense, with absolute no familiar face actor or actress, low budget movie that sometimes it’s on very, very late in generalist tv (and which I probably watched already). But while Beautiful Malice’s premise might not be new, it sure tells an enthralling story about tragic,  life-shattering events and the strength that is needed to pursue new beginnings, and if the (lack of) action disappointed me, the story itself did not. Above all things I enjoyed the fast-paced, direct writing style used in this, somehow it helps to keep and rise the reader’s anxiety of what will happen next.

Recommended to teens everywhere, so they will know what (please) not to do in the (God forbids) same situations.

Thank you Faber & Faber for this review copy (and for sending it asap) and also to the Daisy Chain Book Reviews blog responsible for the giveaway in which I  was lucky enough to win it.

Rating: 6/10

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