Kate Elizabeth Russell’s “My Dark Vanessa”: A Book Review

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell is an explosive debut that explores the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher. Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, this masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. It is a hard read, and I know not everyone would like it. A challenging read with sensitive topic but ultimately needed to be addressed. You have to have the proper mind set delving into this one. It will hit you differently, unpleasant at times, yet you will develop some profound understanding.

The characters, especially the narrator – Vanessa, gave so much depth to the book, making it more repulsive and graphic but also will give you a feeling you just couldn’t quite place, like sympathy and pity. Vanessa, was an enigma, (just how Henry Plough said it), her character so complex. You couldn’t quite guess what would be her reaction to certain things. There is darkness within her that is very hard to fathom, a kind of darkness that follows her, looms over everything she touches. Jacob Strane’s character is predatory and manipulative, but the book was able to paint him in a certain light that shows he is so much more than what he is. From this you will understand why Vanessa reacted the way she did or how Vanessa regarded Strane, on why she always puts him in a pedestal.

Kate Elizabeth Russell definitely made her mark with this debut. Now I have high expectations from her. Best believe I will be looking forward to more of her writing. My Dark Vanessa is a book that will challenge you. Not an easy read. Not a book I would typically reach out, nor a book I would read during this pandemic. I first listened to on audio from Scribd, and I tell you it has the most talented narrator. Listening to it sends a different kind of chill – a whole new level of horror. The reading experience magnified and heightened 10x more. It will suck you in like a vortex. A tip to maximize your reading experience, listen to audio while reading the book. That’s a sure way to ingrain the book inside your pretty head.

My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself. It is a hard read with sensitive topics but ultimately needed to be addressed. I cannot in good conscience haphazardly recommend this book to whoever asks for literary fiction recommendation, I believe you have to set the trigger warnings first and always proceed with caution. It is a hard read, and I know not everyone would like it. A challenging read with sensitive topic but ultimately needed to be addressed. You have to have the proper mind set delving into this one. It will hit you differently, unpleasant at times, yet you will develop some profound understanding.

The Prince, The Showgirl and Me – The Colin Clark Diaries
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The Prince, The Showgirl and Me – The Colin Clark Diaries

‘The Prince, The Showgirl and Me’ are a set of extracts from the Diaries of Colin Clark for the six months he was on the sets of a movie starring Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. The movie, ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ was shot in its entirety at Pinewood Studios, on the outskirts of London and … Continue reading The Prince, The Showgirl and Me – The Colin Clark Diaries…

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Book Reviews
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Marjorie Grant’s 1921 Novel “Latchkey Ladies”

I have been having a rather good month reading things for #ReadIndies all of which have turned out to be great. Latchkey Ladies by Marjorie Grant was a Christmas present from family, and one of three Handheld Press books I have tbr. I am glad I chose this one as it turned out to be […]…

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Book Lists
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Picture Books to Prepare Kids for the School Year

Back-to-school season is always so exciting. I remember the thrill of new backpacks, new pencils and notebooks, and even new shoes! But, not every kid finds the season as fun as some do. For some kids, it can be depressing, scary, or just plain intimidating to return to a new or old school. The great thing about books, however, is that they strive to cover a wide range of experiences — and that’s what this list of back-to-school picture books is about. Whether your kids love school or dread the first day of school, there’s an encouraging tale for them on…

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1930s
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D.E. Stevenson’s Novel “The Empty World”

Did you know that D.E. Stevenson had written a post-apocalyptic novel? I didn’t, until I read the description of this one and was intrigued by how different it sounded from her usual light romances and family sagas. First published in 1936, it’s available in ebook format from independent publisher Lume Books. I’m not sure whether … Continue reading The Empty World by D.E. Stevenson…

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Book Lists
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Exploring Middle Grade Graphic Novels for Girls

Graphic novels are such a unique format — for kids and adults alike — and I cannot make enough lists about them. Really, we have an entire series of graphic novel recommendations by age (for ages eight, nine, ten, and eleven). This list of middle grade graphic novels for girls is for graphic novels featuring female protagonists. Of course, the books on this list aren’t only for girls but may appeal more to them!
The post Middle Grade Graphic Novels for Girls appeared first on Reading Middle Grade….

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Exploring the Historical Accuracy of Real People and Fictional Characters in Musings #78

Welcome to my monthly post on all things historical fiction! This month, I’m going to look at two different kinds of historical novel – those that insert fictional characters into historical settings and those that focus on real historical figures. The second type of book is sometimes referred to as a ‘biographical novel’ and ranges … Continue reading Historical Musings #78: Real people or fictional?…

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