by Rebecca James
Rebecca James is an Australian author who is still relatively new on the scene. 'Beautiful Malice' is her debut novel. I discovered this book last year while I was teaching at a high school. It was a new addition to the library and recommended to me by the school librarian. (I tend to get on very well with school librarians once they discover how much I love talking about books!) I took it home that afternoon and read it in two sittings, unable to stop. I was hooked and intrigued from the first few sentences.
Katherine, the narrator, is seventeen years old and has recently moved to new city and a new school to escape her shattered family, who have been torn apart by her younger sister Rachel's death the previous year. She is determined to keep her head down and continue with her studies, and leave the old, fun-loving Katherine behind her as she tries to forget the terrible truth of her sister's death. That is, until she is befriended by Alice. Charismatic, beautiful, and with a seductive quality to her, Alice explodes into Katherine's life and the friendship quickly becomes intense. But Alice has her own dark secrets and motives and things take a sinister turn as the truth of Rachel's death, and who Alice really is, are revealed in a climax that leaves the reader stunned.
This is a beautifully written book. It is rare to come across a book filled with such realistically depicted characters, with dialogue that seems to flow straight off the page so that the reader can almost hear the character's voices. The hints and mysteries surrounding the death of Rachel and Alice's true motives make it difficult to put down, and it is very easy to lose yourself in the plot and develop real feeling for the characters. The story jumps between present day and the past, but it does so smoothly and seamlessly and without any confusion. I have read this book several times now and each time I find myself drawn in at the same relentless pace. It is marketed towards young adults/teens but is definitely a book that adults can enjoy. It is very sad and heartbreaking in places, which we are aware of from the very first page, but it is not without a sense of hope and redemption. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy a good psychological thriller that is extremely well-written with believable characters and a gripping plot.
5 out of 5 stars (yes, it's that good.)