This book entrusts you with secrets, feelings that are so heavy you feel like you are holding it all together for the characters. Dark isn’t for everyone, but those who connect will find this is one of the best.
Black Iris by Leah Raeder
It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.
If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.
She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.
But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.
Which was the plan all along.
Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.
She’s going to show them all.
It’s going to be hard for me to put my thoughts into words about how much I loved this book. It’s not for the normal reasons one would love a book. I didn’t have a certain connection to one of the characters. I didn’t have a connection to the plot or the resolution. I loved this book for the shear gripping quality of the words on the page. I was completely engrossed with this dark tale of a past riddled with torment and grief and a present filled with bravery and revenge. I loved the way the sentences were arranged. I loved the lyrical quality of the words on each page. I loved the formatting of the chapters, back and forth. If books were languages, the way this one is written would be my favorite language of all. Just absolutely amazing writing. I just sat there shaking my head in wonder after I closed the last page. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that before, but when you do, you will know what style speaks to you. This one was it for me.
“I never wanted to be saved. I wanted someone to follow me down into the darkness.”
Now onto the actual content of the book. It is intensely dark. Everything surrounding Lacey feels somewhat tainted. I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but that’s the one that came to mind. She is plagued with a past of grief that is slowly played from start to finish. It is intertwined with the present day Laney who is no longer tormented, but is still reminded in her thoughts. It starts to show through her current interactions what kind of abuse she has endured at the hands of someone else. It all felt sort of like a whirlwind of emotions. You think you know what’s happening until something else comes out of nowhere and smacks you in the face.
“I am not the heroine of this story.”
The relationships of all the characters are so… complicated? I think that’s the best way to put it. They are so knitted together that it’s hard to see where one relationship begins and the other one ends. Blythe and Armin were such rich characters. They are so different, but so much the same in many ways. Their connection with Lacey was something so interesting to read about. All three of them are one of a kind characters. It’s hard to figure out the dynamic of the group at first such as who the leader will be and what each is wanting from this friendship. A lot of what I loved about the book besides that it just spoke to me was the character dynamics. The secrets the group held and the loyalty of them. I loved reading each chapter to find out how the characters would shift before my eyes.
“Falling for someone is like pulling a loose thread. It happens stitch by stitch. You feel whole most of the time even while the seams pop, the knots loosen, everything that holds you together coming undone. It feels incredible, this opening of yourself to the world. Not like the unraveling it is. Only afterward do you glance down at the tangle of string around your feet that used to be a person who was whole and self-contained and realize that love is not a thing that we create. It’s an undoing.”
The timeline of the plot really gave this book an edge. You sort of skip around between time frames and find out a little more each time you switch. The plot was thoughout really well. Revealing just enough to keep you on your toes and becoming so involved within this web of deceit and lies. The unreliability of the narrator keeps you guessing between fiction and truth.
“Sometimes all you know about where you’re going is that it’s away from where you are.”
This book was pretty much all around awesome! I’ve read one other book by Raeder and I absolutely loved it too. Unteachable was dark and wordy. His writing is hypnotizing. I will be so interested in everything he writes in the future. For anyone who doesn’t know, I am using “he” because Leah Raeder is now Elliot Wake. He has a new upcoming book releasing in December called Bad Boy under his new name.
“Maybe all you need to pull you back form the ledge is to know someone would miss you if you fell.”
Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.
But Ren has been living a double life.
Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.
But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.
Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.
Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.
I love dark and twisty.
Scary and damaged.
I don’t think I will be disappointed with anything by this author.
Who likes dark novels?
Have you read any of this author’s books?