Book Review: Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

When I started reading “Beautiful Malice” by Rebecca James, I hadn't expected to be so impressed and so totally blown away by it. I started reading it only to satisfy my curiosity to know the mystery behind the enigmatic cover. After 70 pages, I knew I was going to like the book. Its theme is on life and death, especially death and the void it creates in one’s life. Those who have seen death, experienced the loss, and have gone through the pain of losing someone near and dear forever, are changed entities. They are not themselves anymore. In the first 70 pages, I’ve learnt that it is ok to be sad, to cry. It is ok to complain, and cry to a friend, sharing the long buried feelings- the grief and the guilt; it is ok to open up one’s mind, to put one’s guard down, and be vulnerable to the outward emotions. And it’s normal to fear death, and human nature to be overprotective.

But the slow, gradual, mysterious turn of events is not what one had expected earlier. People are not what they seem. May be opening up to a dear friend and putting one’s guard down was a wrong idea on Katherine’s part. Alice, the dear friend of Katie, the always optimistic and enthusiastic one, has a darker side. Situations might not be so normal after all. The first part of the story is all about Katherine- her depression phase, trauma phase and the happy phase as she rediscovers herself and makes a good friend- Alice. The second part of the story is focused on the mystery in the air- Alice’s mood swings, unexpected changes in her personality and hints of something scary and sinister.

Just loved Rebecca’s superb character sketches- Katherine, Alice, Robbie, Rachael, and Katie’s mom. It’s all so cleanly detailed without any gaps or feeling of alienness. Loved the gradual progress in Katherine’s transformation to Katie- from a reserved private person to a social person.

Alice has more darkness to her, and has some deeply buried secrets. A secret even darker than Katherine’s. Alice’s personality is not clear. She transforms from being a positive person to a self-destructive, narcissist sociopath.  One moment she’s kind, generous, a very good friend, charming and pleasant to be with; but the very next moment she’s vicious, unyielding, unapologetic and unkind. The contrast is surprising and scary, but gives one an edge-of-the-seat feel and makes the book a really good psychological thriller. Read to know what dark secret is unveiling itself. One word for the book –“Unputdownable”.

5/5 stars


Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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