Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

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Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Katherine Patterson is hoping to begin a new life of quiet anonymity following an horrific tragedy that shatters the lives of everyone in her perfect family. Then Katherine meets Alice Parrie; beautiful, popular, generous, gregarious, hedonistic, Alice's friendship appears to be the perfect distraction. That is, until you really get to know her.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571255238

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Katherine Patterson is not someone you would generally take much notice of; especially when pretty butterflies like Alice Parrie are around. But there is something fascinating about Katherine's singularity that appeals to pretty butterflies and Katherine can't help but be flattered when Alice selects her to be her best friend. It's an unlikely pairing for Katherine. Alice, with her sun-kissed blonde hair, blue eyes sparkling with mischief and irresistible sense of fun; Katherine with her brooding, wary solitariness; her tight-lipped stance when it comes to anything in the recent past. But they are equally fascinated with one another, it would seem, and together with Alice's on-off boyfriend, Robbie – besotted, lovely, handsome Robbie who has not yet accepted that he is Alice's mere plaything – the three become very firm friends.

It is the little things, at first, which Katherine starts to notice - Alice's harsh and flippant comments about Robbie which are frequently to his face, her unexpected and acute loathing of her parents or anyone unfortunate enough to not match Alice's substantially materialistic criteria and the way in which Alice behaves if the world is not constantly revolving around her. To Katherine, Alice starts to look a lot less spoiled as had been her first impression, than selfish, egocentric and often cruel.

Though it is persistently pointed out to her by everyone else who has been on the receiving end of Alice's bad behaviour, Katherine's view is not confirmed until a drunken game of truth or dare reveals a very ugly rip in Alice's flawless façade and Katherine begins to wonder what kind of friend Alice really is.

Written from the interesting perspectives of past-Katherine (or Katie), present-Katherine and future-Katherine (incidentally, a very clever way to tell us the back-story in bite-sized chunks, rather than all in one go. It definitely kept the suspense going throughout!), Rebecca James makes a fantastic debut with Beautiful Malice and the Internet is a-buzz with Tweets, blogs and reviews; 99% of them favourable, too.

Further, James is hotly tipped to hit high up in the bestseller lists and I can do nothing other than whole-heartedly agree with all of them but unlike many reviews of this novel, I am going to give you neither a spoiler of the past story, nor one of the twists to come. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book and you would be well advised to play it the same way. I had far more fun reading it without a single idea of what might be around the corner, and I think you will too.

For her part, James has addressed the needs of not just a single genre – there are well-scripted elements that will appeal to the readers of teen fiction, thrillers and women's fiction - and in so doing, has considered her audience faithfully thus delivering a highly accessible novel.

In summary, Beautiful Malice is an outstanding read. I totally and utterly enjoyed it and I'd bet the farm that this one is going to be around for a while – the book and the author!

For further reading, we'd like to suggest you take a look at Bad Faith by Gillian Philip which, whilst technically for the YA readership (and set in a somewhat alternative literary landscape), converts precisely as well to a thriller genre as Beautiful Malice does. Also, we think you might enjoy Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess because we loved it and we really believe that there are lots more than just a Top Ten Teen Books That Adults Should Read. A final recommendation – because I can't choose only two – would be Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe as the parallel message between the two books is a clear one: you should never judge a book by its cover!

Lastly, we at Bookbag would like to extend our thanks to the generous ladies and gentlemen at Faber and Faber for sending us this copy to review.

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Buy Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James at


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