Book Review: Our Kind of Cruelty

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY | Araminta Hall
05.08.2018 | MCD Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 4/5 stars

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Mike Hayes grew up in a brutal household with an alcoholic mother who could not take care of him. He was often forced to hide from his mother’s abusive lovers and eat moldy food to stay alive. Despite living the later portion of his childhood in a safe and loving foster home, Mike never could shake his quiet, lonely exterior; his inability to trust those around him. That all changed when he met Verity Metcalf. V bumped into him at a party and soon he was swept away in her charm. She opened his eyes to a life he never knew. To a love he had never felt. Mike would stop at nothing to make V happy. He has gotten the perfect job, designed and redesigned the perfect house, and morphed his body in to one any woman would lust after.

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We must work and bend the truth. Others might see it differently, but, my darling, our kind of cruelty is love by any other name.

In recent months something has changed between the couple and V is no longer returning Mike’s emails. When she finally responds to him, she informs Mike that she’s marrying a man named Angus. To anyone else on the planet this might seem like strange news, but Mike knows it’s the next level in their secret game. Mike and V have always played a game called The Crave, where V lures a man to her at a bar and after sending her secret signal, Mike swoops in and saves her from this stranger. A wedding is just the next level in Mike’s mind and all he has to do is watch for her clues and signal and soon they’ll be back together, happier than ever. As the days tick by, Mike is growing impatient for the game to end. Just how far will he go to claim V as his?

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What constitutes the truth? Does it exist only in what we say to each other in flimsy puffs of air, often said without real thought? Or is it, as I suspect, more than that? No, surely it is the foundation of all we are. It is in our bones, in our being. It begs to be interpreted in order to reach its true potential.

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY is a character study straight into the brain of Mike Hayes in the form of a slow burning thriller. From the very beginning you know where Mike is going to end up and Hall takes you methodically through the events that led him there. Mike knows that Verity loves him just as much as he does and due to an incident several months earlier she is simply testing his love by arranging this false marriage to Angus. So then why can’t those around Mike see how close they are? Clearly these people just don’t understand. As tensions build higher, Hall does not let the reader down and they are able to fully see each gear turning inside Mike’s mind, pushing him forward with what he must do next to beat this ultimate version of the game he plays with V. I was spellbound by the levels of Mike’s thought processes and his ability to turn each of V’s actions into a positive, even when very clearly the reader cannot agree with his determination. I desperately wanted just one small section from Verity’s perspective, which in a way was touched on in part three, but would have pushed this book over in to 5 star territory for me. In a genre dominated by female narrators, Hall provides a unique take inside the mind of a man that will leave you wanting more.

I don’t think either of us care what happens to anyone apart from you and I. I don’t wish death on others, but at the same time, there are so many pointless people out there, so many disposable lives. Our truth is nothing stranger than that we need no one else, you and I are all there is.

A special thank you to MCD Books, FSG Books, and Araminta Hall for sending me a copy of OUR KIND OF CRUELTY in exchange for my honest review.

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