Friday, May 11, 2018

Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Release Date - May 8, 2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  288 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.
I settled into Our Kind Of Cruelty expecting a taunt psychological thriller. One filled with plot twits and jaw dropping reveals. That is not at all what this book is. It's a rage inducing read that will make you want to get your friends to read it just so you have someone to discuss it with and scream about how society judges women for their sexuality.

The synopsis teases that this is Mike's love story and I cannot think of a more accurate description. This is a novel of obsession and perception. Women like Verity, who enjoy playing games as part of sex, are viewed as certain way. Men like Mike, strong and handsome, are also viewed a certain way. That perception is part of what makes this story work even as it dismantles it. The author had a clear message she wanted this book to convey and I feel that she more than succeeded in that endeavour.

The narration is split into two sections. We have the beginning that is essentially a character study of Mike. It's fascinating and ensures you're pulled into the story. The latter half is a tense courtroom drama that is probably, in my opinion, the stronger of the two sections. The first is necessary to the second but the story arc payoff is all in the back part of the story. It means the pacing feels slower at first but increases as the story nears its conclusion. It creates the effect of a really readable novel because I flew through it once the pacing picked up.

I don't want to get too much into the characters or the plot. There is not a real mystery that needs to be unraveled but it still manages to be taunt with tension and I feel that needs to be experienced with as little spoilers as possible. The fact that so much the story is shared through a narrator who is unreliable means that it makes the reader think and follow along a little more closely. We're depending on the other characters to provide hints and clues to what is really going on. I went in thinking this story was going to be one thing, but it quickly morphed into something else entirely and I think it works more if you experience it the way the author intended it to be.

A story that makes a strong statement about the ways in which society blames women for the behaviour of men. A story that shows how women are punished for their sexuality in a way that men are not. It reflects a society that chooses to vilify women for the same actions they rationalize in men. The later part of this novel is especially hard to read as Verity is held accountable for things that were not in her control. We tell women to speak out, fight back, and do what they need to in order to survive if attacked in one breath, but belittle or judge in another when they do. This book captures this so acutely that I would recommend it for this alone.

This story will appeal to readers who want a fascinating character study. It doesn't really work as a mystery or suspense novel, but rather as something else all together. It's a book that is holding up a mirror to the way society views women like Verity. It works incredibly well as a commentary piece wrapped in a compelling narrative. I predict it'll be a favourite of many summer reading lists and bookclubs. 

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