In Malice, Quite Close by Brandi Lynn Ryder

I started reading but have not finished (and probably won’t finish) Brandi Lynn Gardner’s In Malice Quite Close. It is really good, engrossing and very well-written. If you like art, drama, intrigue and Humbert Humbert, then all of those elements and more exist in Brandi Lynn Ryder’s debut novel.

So why am I not going to finish, since it’s so good? Timing. This book comes on the heels of my reading two books (The Beginners by Rebecca WolffThe End of Everything by Megan Abbot) concerning ambiguous and dodgy sexual relationships between either confused or downright non-consenting teenage girls and the males in their lives. Reading about a much older man abducting a vulnerable teenage girl and reshaping her life puts me over my tolerance threshold for this particular brand of female exploitation. If Lolita-esque novels appeal, then this book will have a lot to offer. Frenchman Tristan Mouralt spots fifteen-year-old Karen on the streets of San Francisco, and decides that he just has to have her, so he takes her. Of course. Befriending the unhappy girl he makes her complicit in her own disappearance and renames her Gisele. When Gisele is eighteen he marries her off to unsophisticated Luke in order to mask the nature of their relationship to each other. Gisele and Luke have a ten-year-old daughter who figures prominently in the story – she discovers a basement full of nude paintings, all of Gisele. Luke reluctantly takes credit for the paintings, even though he knows that he isn’t capable of such exquisite and provoking work. The plot thickens further and unfolds from there as secrets threaten to expose the life Tristan has built for them all. Though I wasn’t in the head space for this novel, but I it was definitely worthy of a mention for those who might be.

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