TRIGGER WARNING: please read this review and book with caution if you are triggered by subjects such as sexual assault, r*pe, emotional abuse, abuse, child abuse, suicide and death.
Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.
Now the teacher, Jacob Strane, has been accused of sexual abuse by another former student, and a journalist has asked Vanessa to contribute to a story about him. But no one seems to understand that what Vanessa and Strane had together wasn’t abuse. It was love.
My Dark Vanessa is Kate Elizabeth Russell’s debut novel and it has blown up massively across social media in the book blogging world. It is one of the most dark, disturbing contemporary fiction novels that I have ever come across. The Hard cover edition was published in early 2020 by William Morrow, and the paper back edition I have was published this year from 4th Estate.
This book was incredibly difficult to read at times. It is written to purposefully make you feel uncomfortable. It covers some very dark topics and takes a very unique view point of child abuse for a novel. By this I mean, most books that I’ve come across on this topic are from the view point of the abuser, such as Lolita which is heavily referenced in this book too. And although this book is so difficult to read due to its topics, there is no denying that it is a masterpiece.
I think it’s very rare to come across a debut novel this special. You can tell that so much thought has been put into this book. The characters were built with so much detail, the plot was honed and perfected to inflict a wide array of emotions. It is impossible to put down, even though you may want to at times. This book has you questioning everything, reading through your fingers, feeling sick and sorry and hurt. It is truly terrifying to see so plainly, the impact that abuse can have on a person. And just how long that impact may last.
Without a doubt I would recommend this book. It’s disturbingly dark and fantastic. But please, read carefully if you may be triggered by the topics of this book. I am in awe of Kate Elizabeth Russell and her art. I hope to read many more of her books in the future.
Star Rating /5