Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James: Review

'Truth or dare?' she asks.

I hesitate. I have so many secrets, so many things I don't want to reveal, but this is only a game, only a bit of fun. 'Truth,' I say finally. 'I can imagine one of your dares, and I don't fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.'

'Truth,' Alice says slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she's savouring the word. 'Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?'

'I think so. Try me.'

'Okay.' And then she looks at me curiously. '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?'

Katherine has moved away from her shattered once-perfect family to start a new life in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic Alice, and her life takes her in new directions. But there is a dark side to Alice, and as we learn the truth of Katherine's sister's death and Alice's background their story spirals to an explosive finale.

‘Beautiful Malice’. The name is simply captivating. I saw this book on the library’s new arrivals shelf, read the title and the tagline ( friendship can be deadly) and immediately knew this was what I was going to read next.
This is a good book. Not simply because it is written well and without too much flamboyancy but also because it is a starkly realistic and dangerously scary book. There’s no blood and gore kind of fright involved with it, it’s a true psychological thriller that’s nevertheless rather blood-chilling.
Katherine has been through a lot. She holds herself guilty over what happened to her sister, Rachel, and has been introverted ever since. She changed her name and changed her school, and until the most popular girl in school- Alice- asks her for a party no one even looks at her twice. Alice is like a whirlwind in Katherine’s life. She brings much needed gloss and shimmer, and is like the absolute fun person- her life is a party, and she has no rules. Alice is beautiful and can be incredibly cruel. Katherine and Robbie claims to be charmed by her, and unlike usual books I can actually understand what the author means by this charm. Although I really felt as though Katherine was walking on glass with Alice, there were parts of this book where Alice seemed to be truly fun. Robbie is supposed to be, simply, a supporting character but the beauty of Beautiful Malice is that EVERY supporting character- be it Philippa, or the lovely Mick, or even Katherine’s parents- are incredibly detailed and real.
The book starts off grippingly; the first sentence is absolutely RIVETING. From there it is a realistic yet frightening roller coaster, and as the book progresses, we begin to care for Katherine, we begin to want her happiness. And it keeps evading her at all times.
There was a part near the end of the book which I read, screamed ‘Are you kidding me?!’ and then cried over. I am not a crying-over-books person, so you can imagine how much Katherine and Mick and Robbie and Alice seemed real to me.
Especially Alice. The author has detailed her character incredibly well. While we shudder and gasp at what Alice is capable of, we also somehow realize that yes, this is something Alice would do, something we could expect from her. We get to know Alice, and that itself is a feat. She is chilling, charming, cruel and beautiful all at once. At first, we wonder if she is just ego-centric. But there is more to Alice than that- check this excerpt:
The thing is, I see Alice sometimes – at the supermarket, at
the gates of Sarah’s kindergarten, at the club where Sarah and
I sometimes go for a cheap meal. I catch glimpses of Alice’s
glossy, corn-blonde hair, her model-like body, her eye-catching
clothes, from the corner of my eye and I stop to stare, my heart
pounding. It only takes me an instant to remember that she is
dead and gone, that it can’t possibly be her, but I have to force
myself to get closer, to reassure myself that her ghost isn’t
haunting me. Close-up these women are sometimes similar to
Alice, albeit never, never as beautiful. More frequently, though,
on closer inspection they look nothing like her.
It is obvious, from this first page paragraph enough, that Alice has altered Katherine's life more than anyone would ever desire. 
I would have loved for Katherine to have a happy forever in this book. Again the author proves that she is hugely realistic, that life doesn’t always indulge us- not even in books. I may not be satisfied with the ending of this book, I may have felt heartbroken- but again, it is a hugely satisfying read for the mere fact that it is not just a book, it’s a piece of darkly shaded life itself.

 4 on 5

Cover Talk:
The cover image above is not the one that was on the book I got from the library. In India we usually get the UK version of book-covers so the one I got was this plain red one that looks like a poster more than a book cover. It's not that great, and the USA one is actually much better. It reminds me of danger and fragility all at once.
Still, for such a book, I wish the cover had been a little better, the text color just looks weird, and the background seems poorly lit and done hurriedly enough that there was no time to run it through photoshop to make it look more even and well-adjusted.
3 on 5.


  1. Wow that sounds like a great book. The excerpt was captivating, so I imagine the book is great.

  2. Great review, I’ll have to see if my library has the book too! I’m a new follower, found you on book blogs- love the blog layout too!


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