Author: Rebecca James
Release Date: 1st May 2010
My Rating: 3/5
I hesitate. '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 family to start afresh in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic, party-loving Alice, who brings her out of her shell. But there is a dark side to Alice, something seductive yet threatening. And as Katherine learns the truth about Alice, their tangled destinies spiral to an explosive and devastating finale.
I had read quite a few reviews of this before picking it up. Some were good, some were bad so I decided to give it a go, and I am so glad I did. While I wouldn't say it is one of my favourite reads, it is something that stayed with me well after finishing, going over the storyline and the characters in my head. This is Australian author Rebecca James' debut novel and I can see why it caused such a frenzied bidding war. Beautiful Malice is a rather disturbing psychological thriller written for young adults, although I would place it as a 15+ novel. It is so well written and is so suspenseful that you just keep sitting there reading, even when you know you should be going to bed for fear of sleeping through your alarm the next morning!
The story is told from three different stages in Katherine's life. Each chapter is told from one of these time periods, weaving between the three until we have a complete picture of Katherine's life and the shocking and horrifying conclusion. Interestingly enough, the part of the story that I think of as the 'present day' actually isn't. Stage one describes the night Katherine's sister Rachel is killed. Stage two is set two years later when Katherine has moved to Sydney to try and have a fresh start and to complete her HSC. This is the stage where most of the story takes place and where Katherine meets the diabolical character of Alice. Stage three is set four years after stage two, and this shows us how Katherine is dealing after the events occurring in stage two. This may sound confusing, but don't worry, it's not, the story flows extremely well.
Rebecca James has created such a fantastic cast of characters. They are unique, well described, free of clichés, and with the exception of one or two, the kind of people you would want to be friends with. I must say that to me, and probably most other readers, the most disturbing part of the book isn't Rachels' death, although it is truly horrible, but the character of Alice. When Katherine finally realises just how toxic Alice is in her life, it's far too late. Alice is someone who has no conscience, or if she does, she pays no heed to it. Just when you think Alice can't get any worse, she does something else that just pushes those around her to their limits. I found that I was getting so angry with Alice and the way she was treating the characters that I love, that I just wanted to protect them, I felt as if they had become my friends. To me, this is an amazing ability of an author to evoke such strong feelings in a reader.
This is a fantastic psychological thriller about love, death, pain, friendship, betrayal, loss and strength.