Book Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Our Kind of CrueltyAbout the Book

Mike understands that most of us travel through the world as one half of a whole, desperately searching for that missing person to make us complete.

But he and Verity are different. They have found each other and nothing and no one will tear them apart.  It doesn’t matter that Verity is marrying another man.

It’s all just part of a plan: you see, Verity and Mike play a game together, a secret game they call ‘the crave’, the aim being to demonstrate what they both know: that Verity needs Mike, and only Mike. Verity’s upcoming marriage is the biggest game she and Mike have ever played. And it’s for the highest stakes.

Except this time in order for Mike and Verity to be together someone has to die…

Format: ebook, hardcover (368 pp.)    Publisher: Century
Published: 3rd May 2018                        Genre: Thriller

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops) *links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Our Kind of Cruelty on Goodreads

My Review

Mike, the book’s narrator, is solitary, obsessive and single-minded.  Living inside his mind and witnessing his twisted logic makes for an unsettling experience.  As well as his intense and overwhelming love for Verity, there is a pent-up rage within Mike that sees him imagining random accidents or acts of violence against others he encounters in everyday life.  Most successful for me were those sections where the author allows us to see how Mike interprets signs and signals, even small gestures, in a way that confirms his own viewpoint.  He is confident that he knows what Verity and others are really thinking even if, on the face of it, they are expressing the opposite.  He really does hear ‘yes when others say ‘no’ (as the final paragraphs of the novel demonstrate).

Mike also knows this game of ‘the crave’ is the most dangerous (but most exciting) version he and Verity have ever played.  As the reader discovers, his obsessive love for Verity and what he believes are the rules of their game will drive him to desperate acts.  However, thanks to the skilful writing of the author, I found myself torn between feeling sympathy for what Mike tells us about his traumatic, lonely childhood (assuming this is all true) and horror at his actions born out of a twisted version of love.

Our Kind of Cruelty is a chilling, thought-provoking portrait of obsessive love and desire. I’m not going to say more for fear of revealing elements of the plot but instead I’ll leave you with five quotes that give you a tantalising insight into the mind of the book’s narrator.  (Please note, these quotes are from the proof copy.)

‘I knew immediately she didn’t that she didn’t mean a word of the email…’

‘And what that means is that sometimes two people need each other so much it is worth sacrificing others to make sure they end up together.’

 ‘…cruelty was a necessary part of our game.’

‘Everything is a game, V used to tell me; only stupid people forget that.’

‘…how do you show someone that what they believe to be true is really not the truth?’

To read Araminta’s fascinating piece, ‘How to Write A Feminist Thriller From a Male Perspective’, click here.  I received a proof copy courtesy of publishers, Century, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Compelling, unsettling, creepy

Try something similar…Exquisite by Sarah Stovell (click here to read my review)

Araminta HallAbout the Author

Araminta Hall has worked as a writer, journalist and teacher.  She has had two novels published previously: Everything & Nothing, a Richard & Judy read in 2011, and Dot, published in 2013.  She teaches creative writing at New Writing South in Brighton, where she lives with her husband and three children.  Her latest book, Our Kind of Cruelty, is being launched with major fanfare by Century and was inspired by a documentary about Amanda Knox that made Araminta think more deeply on female sexuality and how it is both vilified and glorified in the courts and media.

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