What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
I started writing this review saying that I didn’t believe I’d read any Araminta Hall before, then did the “right thing” and checked on Goodreads where I was stunned to discover that I’ve read her debut novel, Everything And Nothing in my pre blogging days. I rated that book three stars – a good read but not one I was blown away by and I remember being slightly disappointed by the ending. Almost in complete contrast, I had a wonderful time reading this book and I was slightly taken aback, as it felt like a very different author that I hadn’t read before. Hence the mistaken thinking that I’d never read her previously! Thank you so much to Century Press for giving in to my pleading and sending me a copy of this amazing thriller, in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to have it and I’m delighted to report that I was one hundred percent gripped until the very end.
The author of Our Kind Of Cruelty, Araminta Hall.
Our Kind Of Cruelty is not for the psychologically sensitive. This is a story of a very odd, occasionally warped relationship between Mike Hayes and Verity Metcalf and the games that they play with each other. When they are together, there seems to be no-one else but the two of them and they appear hopelessly, deeply in love. Then Mike has to go to New York for work, leaving Verity behind in London and things start to fall apart. Mike is a bit of a naughty boy and when he admits his transgression to V, they break up. Here begins a twisted, obsessive narrative where Mike cannot accept that their relationship is over, even when V tells him she is marrying another man, inviting him to the wedding. Mike believes that V is still playing their old game – “Crave,” and this is merely the most extreme chapter of the game they have ever played. In order to take him back, he must be punished and Mike is determined that he will beg, grovel, go anywhere and most importantly, do anything to end the game and get Verity back.
What do YOU crave?
What a fascinating read this was! I felt this novel was very much a psychological experiment into the mind of a very troubled man, in this case, our character Mike. What I haven’t mentioned is that Mike had a very traumatic upbringing with an alcoholic, neglectful mother and her string of physically abusive boyfriends. He was put into care at quite a young age and was placed with a foster family who still love him dearly. He becomes dangerously obsessed with his ex, Verity to the point where he becomes quite frankly, delusional. Or is he? The interesting thing about Our Kind Of Cruelty is that we never hear from Verity’s point of view. The entire narrative is directed from Mike’s perspective so we only see what he is suggesting. This was such a clever tool used by the author and I loved the frustration of never knowing if Mike is mentally unhinged or if Verity really is playing quite a sadistic little game. Araminta Hall is also adept at never giving the reader too many clues as to what the real story really is. There are tiny little hints here and there but by the end, I was none the wiser and I adored that!
For me, this was such a skilfully written novel and although I could see the direction it might be going in, I haven’t been as excited (and occasionally shocked) by two such absorbing, sometimes intensely unlikeable characters for a little while now. The plot never lets up with a fast pace and multiple unexpected moments and it’s definitely a read you’ll find difficult to put down.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall was the twenty-eighth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge.