Published by Allen & Unwin on May 1, 2010
Genres: New Adult, Psychological, Suspense, Thrillers
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Beautiful Malice unfolds a haunting story in which people, motives, and circumstances are never what they seem.
Who is Katherine Patterson? It is a question she hopes no one can answer. To erase her past, Katherine has moved to a new city, enrolled in a new school, and even changed her name. She’s done the next best thing to disappearing altogether. Now, wary and alone, she seeks nothing more than anonymity. What she finds instead is the last thing she expected: a friend.
Even more unlikely, Katherine’s new friend is the most popular and magnetic girl in school. Extroverted, gorgeous, flirtatious, and unpredictable, she is everything that Katherine is not and doesn’t want to be: the center of attention. Yet Alice’s enthusiasm is infectious, her candor sometimes unsettling, and Katherine, in spite of her guarded caution, finds herself drawn into Alice’s private circle.
But Alice has secrets, too—darker than anyone can begin to imagine. And when she lets her guard down at last, Katherine discovers the darkest of them all. For there will be no escaping the past for Katherine Patterson—only a descent into a trap far more sinister . . . and infinitely more seductive.
Beautiful Malice is about an unhealthy friendship that turns toxic and malicious. From its innocent beginnings getting to know a person, breaking them out of their shell and suddenly becoming BFFs, the novel takes an unexpected dive where the same friend becomes psychotic, co-dependent and downright scary. I haven’t read any books that delve into the topic as deeply as Rebecca James has, and it is frightening because of how realistic it is.
Katherine has moved to Sydney with her parents to start a new life, away from the intense media scrutiny and reputation that has been built after her sister was murdered. She keeps to herself at her new school but one day, befriends the charismatic, beautiful girl called Alice. Alice is friendly and charming at the start, but slowly reveals her dark side as she spirals into self-destructive, malicious behaviour. This is the story of how Katherine escapes from a toxic friendship and Alice’s evil clutches.
Beautiful Malice is an intense, addictive and compelling read. Alice is a truly psychotic character, going from sweet and friendly to scary and hurtful throughout the book. The dark depths to what she does to Katherine and Robbie in the book is horrific, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I just needed to find out what was wrong with her and how it was all going to be resolved throughout the book. It’s the type of book that tells us the ending at the start, and we sort of have to put the pieces together as we’re reading the novel.
It was refreshing to see the focus of the novel to be on the friendship and the drama rather than the romance itself. Although there is a bit of insta-love, I’m sort of glad there was a bit of happiness in Katherine’s life, after being subject to such a horrible friendship and past.
Published as a young adult book in 2010, I think this book more accurately matches up with the new adult genre today. The high school drama and romance takes a back seat and the book deals with some real, psychological issues such as toxic friendships, dealing with murder, teenage pregnancy and bullying. I think Rebecca James has done a fantastic job with the genre and proud to say that she’s an Aussie author.
From its innocent beginnings, to finding happiness, to its inevitable crash and burn, Beautiful Malice was enveloping from start to finish. I found it scarier than a B grade horror movie, and that’s how you know when a psychological horror is done well. Perhaps the scariest part of all is that I know people who have exhibited signs of what Alice has done, creating endless drama just for attention and her own self-satisfaction. I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers and new adult reads that aren’t solely focused on the romance. Now if you excuse me, it’s time to go to sleep with the lights on…
Rating: 5 out of 5