Book Review: 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.




Gather the above words close to your heart and hold them tightly, for this is not a story about redemption or growth. This is not about forgiveness.

Only vengeance.

This book is dark, guttural. It speaks to that side of yourself you keep hidden from the rest of the world. That reptilian part of your brain that never evolved past fuck, kill, conquer. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Take away our modern conveniences and we’re nothing but savages slaughtering each other in the primordial swamp.

Laney Keating, our anti-hero, is the embodiment of that. She’s what happens when you back someone into a corner and strip them of everything that connects them to the rest of humanity.

In the very first pages you witness her world crumble around her, and the resulting downward spiral can only be described as spectacular. Then one night she meets a pair of charismatic strangers. They make her feel alive, electric. You begin to see glimpses of comprehension through her drug-muddled mind, sparks of personality returning to drive away the shadows. Perhaps there’s hope for redemption after all. Perhaps these newfound friends will save her from herself.

You fool. You utter fool. You know nothing. She’s not the one who needs saving.

You see, this book is one hell of a mindfuck. Told through the delicate interleaving of past and present, you’re given mere glimpses into moments, witnessing just enough to keep you questioning everything and everyone.

Reading this was like being caught up in a fever dream. The lyrical prose and heavy-hitting imagery combined to weave a tale of love and betrayal that stole my breath away and left me hungry for more. The moment I set it down, I wanted to pick it up and start all over again.

In case it isn’t perfectly clear, I fucking loved this book. I know the year just started, but I’ll be shocked if something comes along that bumps this from being my Favorite Book of 2015. If you’re a fan of beautiful writing, flawless characterization and intricate plot twists that you’ll never see coming, I suggest you bump this to the top of your “To Read” list.

Oh yeah, and there are girls kissing each other in here too. Get the fuck over it.

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