Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

Caidyn's review (1)

Her Pretty Face


TW: child death, child murder, rape, drug use, abusive relationship, and family death

Thank you Netgalley and Gallery/Scout Press for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Let me just say this: I might read a lot, but I don’t always read books in one day. I usually don’t. I kind of pick a rough date, use a planner to figure out how many pages to read a day, and then I follow it until I’m done.

But I devoured this book.

I started it last night (and since this review will be scheduled for ages, that was June 6th) and then finished it the next day. I literally couldn’t put it down and didn’t want to.

Which is odd since… not a whole lot happens during this book.

It’s more thoughtful and literary. Sure, it’s a thriller but you already know based on the description what happened and roughly where it’s going. Plus, you read the news, right? You’ve heard of these stories before, right? A child murders another child, gets a juvenile sentence, and then they get off scot-free with protection! How dare they be able to do that?

I’ve read up on cases like these. Mary Bell, a ten to eleven-year-old who murdered two toddlers and is protected by law. Robert Thompson and John Venables who murdered a two-year-old, James Bulger. And there are many others, too. (I’m not linking these in because they don’t have as much to do with my review, but if you do look them up, please know that they are graphic and very, very unsettling crimes.)

Each time, I’m horrified about this. I’m horrified by the crimes, then by the reactions the public had to them. And, I feel the same way about adults who get some of the same treatment. I’ve also read about couple crimes where the woman talks about being forced to do these horrible crimes by their male partner.

This book, roughly, felt based on the crimes on Klara Homolka and Paul Bernardo. Together, they raped and killed three girls, including Klara’s sister who was fifteen at the time of her death.

But, what is this book about? It’s about people discovering the past of someone they care for. A woman discovering her best friend raped and killed a fifteen-year-old girl, claiming that abuse made her do it. A daughter discovering what her mother did to a girl her own age.

As I said, this book felt based off of the murder of Tammy Homolka, but I can’t be certain of that unless the author says it. It just felt very familiar to me. (I am linking this to the wiki page, but please know that it goes into graphic detail about her rape and murder.)

But this book isn’t a thriller. You come into it knowing these things. What this book is, is more of a meditation of when is punishment enough? When do we put on the brakes and stop the punishment of someone who already did their time for an, admittedly, horrific crime? When do we decide that abuse made someone do something or if they’re a psychopath?

For me, this was a huge thought piece that really honed in on things that I’ve thought about before by showing their implications from many different angles. The family of the deceased, the family of the killers, the friends of the killers. And I really enjoyed this story.

It’s told from three different perspectives. Frances, Kate’s (the murderer’s) best friend. Daisy, Kate’s daughter. And DJ, the victim’s younger brother.

All of the characters felt very real to me. I loved watching them as they progressed and came into their own. I really wanted more of Kate. I wanted to know her perspective, but I think that would have defeated the purpose of making up my mind about her. Was she forced to do this or was she a psychopath who took great pleasure in torturing this poor child?

Now, it wasn’t a perfect book. I wish I had known less going into it because the description gives a lot away. I also wish that it had a bit more action to it. Not a lot, but a teeny bit more to give it more pizazz because I found myself getting a little bored after a while.

Yet, I really enjoyed this book. If you’re interested in crime and the implications of punishment — both legal and social — I would suggest it to you. It’s a fast, easy, and intriguing read. I couldn’t put it down.

6 thoughts on “Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

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