Have you ever daydreamed about a mash-up between The Devil Wears Prada and American Psycho? Me neither, but I tell you what: it really, really works.
Book: #FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by NetGalley for fair review (I’m clearing out my NetGalley ARCS for #ARCAugust, in case you wondered why so many ARC reviews recently!)
This book is so far out of my wheelhouse. I hated American Psycho so much (don’t trust a boyfriend who says it’s his favourite book – blech), but I’m always intrigued by unreliable narrators, and I loved The Devil Wears Prada, so my curiosity got the better of me when it came to #FashionVictim. I was a little worried in the opening chapter that it would be too graphic for me, but in the end I found even the murders much less disturbing than I thought I would. The story is utterly compelling and I had to force myself to put it down to go to sleep!
The cut-throat world of fashion magazines is a great setting for a murder mystery, but a mystery this is not. We know from the very beginning that Anya, our protagonist, is completely unhinged and responsible for the deaths. What keeps the story rolling along is Anya’s voice, which is fascinating – friendly, but psychotic. She’s a wonderful study in unreliability, and I was thrilled to watch her justify her actions. You’re not exactly rooting for her, but you’re fascinated and can’t look away.
The violence here is mainly directed against women, but it lacks the sexual overtones that made American Psycho so disgusting to me. Anya kills out of jealousy, insecurity, a misguided need for love – she felt very real to me. I liked the use of the psychiatrist sessions to highlight how very subconsciously aware she was of her own issues. She’s pretty unapologetic, but weirdly understandable? The fashion world makes so little sense that amping the bitch-fighting up to Level: Murder just works – it kind of makes you wonder how Andy never went mental and smashed Miranda Priestly’s head in.
I also loved the cutting take-downs of social media and bloggers. I used to be a fashion blogger. I know that shit. No one ever tried to murder me, but damn was it competitive and jealous. Anya uses Instagram and Twitter as a vital tool in her plans to deflect suspicion, and it added a lot of dark humour to the situation.
Basically, it’s fun. Dark, witty, murdery fun. It would make a really great Netflix series, in the vein of Santa Clarita Diet. Four out of five cats for sure!
PS. I’m pleased to report no nightmares last night, so it passes my scare test!