Our ReviewsPenance by Eliza Clark

Penance by Eliza Clark


This. Book. THIS. BOOK. The mean girls/pretty little liars/ true crime, satirical crossover we didn’t know we needed just published & it’s racking up reviews. 

When @fancyeliza went viral for her bestselling debut Boy Parts, on an exploitative, obsessive female photographer spiralling out of control, it was going to take A LOT for her to surpass that hype. Mission accomplished.

In truth Penance could not have been released at a better time, it captures the zeitgeist & society’s growing fascination with true crime. Just think of the endless podcasts, documentaries, Netflix dramas – ten years ago a series on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer would have been unthinkable.

This novel reads like non fiction & I regularly had to stop & remind myself it wasn’t true. The authenticity of voices, the dexterous use of different structures & narrators, it was sublime (swipe for a few examples).

A journalist is writing a book on a horrific crime, the brutal murder of a teenager in a small, seaside town committed by a group of her classmates. He interviews family, friends, & the incarcerated girls themselves, & we also get pages of their memories that give layers of insight into their lives & psychological states leading up to the crime.

Clarke with dark wit depicts the Tumblr, Reddit, Sims underworld of morbid fans of anything perverse, the vulnerability & isolation of being a teenager, exploring the impact of the true crime genre on young minds & the voyeurism that makes light of such fatalistic depravity. 

At times the prose is disjointed, it’s unclear who is speaking, jumping around from narrator to stream of consciousness but this doesn’t take away from the excoriating passages on the internet, politics, classicism & youthful angst. 

It had me in a grip but I found it easy to put down & pick up as it was so memorable. Desperate to discuss so hit me up if you have inhaled this one like me – C

Ad: PR Copy endless love to @faberbooks for sending over a proof

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