Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

maliceCan you imagine how good it would be to have a bidding war over the release of your first novel, (which had previously been rejected by several publishing houses), and to have advances on your manuscript past $1 million? Well, this has been the case for Rebecca James, author of  ‘Beautiful Malice’ – a gritty psychological thriller ready for the YA market, and a good read for adults too.

The story revolves around Katherine/Katie, and the friendships which evolve since her move to Sydney, after tragic circumstances impact her ‘perfect family life’ in Melbourne. In a time-slip tale, we gradually learn about the events which have lead to the move – events which still play on the conscience of Katherine, as the older sister surviving the situation which claimed her sister’s life.

Katherine’s insular existence is challenged when Alice befriends her at her new school. Gradually, Alice’s charms win Katherine over in an unlikely friendship, and Katherine lives, almost vicariously for a while, through Alice’s bold, random and narcissistic ways. As Alice’s actions become bolder and crueller, Katherine questions her friendship and begins to form alliances with victims of Alice’s taunts instead. And this builds to a vicious, though predictable, finale.

The hype surrounding this publication may make us extra critical and expect lots from the book – but it is a good read and has received lots of good reviews (

It would be interesting to hear from teen readers – especially when one considers the amount of time Katherine doesn’t spend in school (though she is an HSC student). And some of the things she does would, hopefully, be atypical for the average student. (Would you leave a party in a car full of strangers, when your sister has clearly been drugged by the car’s occupants (4 males)? Are parents really that hard to call?)

Perhaps these are the reservations for including this thriller in the school library? I do like the style, and the story is quite clever. Should tales like this be included in school libraries? Do we censor too much? Comments welcome.

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