RaveThe Washington PostPearl-clutchers, take note: When it comes to sexuality and complex power dynamics, Russell pulls no punches. What you get is a raw, unflinching look at the ways we hold young girls responsible for the criminal actions of grown men and, even worse, how victims come to blame themselves ... Occasionally, she presents Vanessa in such a harsh light, some readers may be frustrated by our heroine, and that’s okay. Prepare to settle in and be ill at ease ... With Fiona Apple lyrics floating from the pages – a heady soundtrack for this discomforting tale – your beliefs will be challenged, you will feel helpless, angry and possibly a little depraved, but it will make you feel. A rarity these days ... You’ll want to make sure to carve out enough time before starting, because My Dark Vanessa is compulsive. I burned through the first half of the book in such a fever that I lost sleep, I missed meals. The climax, which seems inevitable, falls smack dab in the middle of the book, leaving the rest of the story to seep out, like stagnant air being let out of a balloon, but I think that’s exactly the point ... Witnessing Vanessa’s downward spiral, watching her strip away every layer of guilt and blame, exposing chronic wounds to bitter conditions, would be unbearable in less capable hands, but Russell manages to weave beautiful prose with gut-wrenching truth so deftly that even the most squeamish reader will not be able to stop themselves from wading into deeper water ... The genius of this book is what’s left unsaid, the deceptively simple nuance with which this difficult material is handled ... To call this book a \'conversation piece\' or \'an important book\' feels belittling, something reserved for female authors writing about the female experience. But this book is so much more than that. It’s a lightning rod. A brilliantly crafted novel, one that will stand against any of the celebrated tomes glorifying the over-sexualization of girls.