My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Title:My Dark Vanessa
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780062941503
Format Type:

    My Dark Vanessa Reviews

  • Kat

    This book was difficult. Difficult to read, and even more difficult to determine how I felt at the end. I remember a lot of discussion surrounding My Dark Vanessa upon its release last year, and while...

  • Roxane

    How do you best write about a fictional love affair between a teacher and a 15-year-old student that is actually a predatory relationship? There are no easy answers to that question but that is what h...

  • Emily May

    "I think we're very similar, Nessa," he whispers. "From the way you write, I can tell you're a dark romantic like me. You like dark things." 3 1/2 stars. I really really want to give this book a hi...

  • Nilufer Ozmekik

    Truth… I started this book so many times and after few pages, I felt suffocated, my stomach churned, sharp pain twisted my heart and I dropped it… This happened several times and I tried to gather...

  • Cindy

    Tragic, dark, repulsive, and infuriating, this book dives deep into the complexities of abusive relationships, grooming, and trauma. There are complicated layers that I think the author does well in p...

  • Will Byrnes

    Come and be worshipped, come and be caressed. My Dark Vanessa, crimson-barred, my blest My Admirable butterfly! Explain How could you, in the gloam of Lilac Lane, Have let uncouth, hysterical John Sh...

  • emma

    Typically when I finish a book, the best case scenario is that I jot down a few notes for the future me who is desperately trying to alchemize fading-away thoughts into a review. These helpful and com...

  • Melanie

    (Thank you, William Morrow, for a finished copy!) This was one of the hardest books I've ever read. I hope to be able to write a full review soon, but I will say that the ending might feel really hear...

  • Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    1.5 stars.I wish I could somehow unread this disturbing book. My curiosity got the best of me after reading the countless 5 star reviews. It wasn’t a storyline that appealed to me but I had to see w...

  • Julie

    My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell is a 2020 William Morrow publication. A powerful novel and one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read Before reading this review, be aware I made up m...