There’s the shouting and the fighting and the unpleasantness between her parents, but it’s the little things King quietly slips in that leave your skin crawling ... This is disturbing, poignant and memorable all at once – an exploration of a very dark relationship between a daughter and her mother.
With searing writing, Ella King charts how abuse in a family affects everyone in it ... This isn’t an easy book to read. It is deeply realistic, with each of the three children coping in their own angry way. The richness of detail and depth of understanding that King gives each character is quietly masterful. There is no happy ending, only a growing awareness of how to nurture a sense of self from the ashes of a shared pathology, the cruel ties built between Mama and Daddy and inflicted on all of their children. But there is a germ of hope and sometimes that has to be enough.
King has produced a fascinatingly horrible psychological thriller. There is an addictive quality to the story, if only because you want to see exactly how deep the rot goes ... The novel delves into the dark consequences of inherited trauma and generational abuse...It is unfortunate that it also relies on an exoticised vision of Singapore, refracted through May's twisted memories and Lily's tourist perspective...Such inconsistencies may be of little note to an international readership, but for Singaporeans, it may leave a sour taste in the mouth.
In her debut novel, King brilliantly portrays generational abuse and trauma passed down from parent to child and a resulting, conscious fight to break free from the toxic cycle. She writes with mastery as she explores the disturbing effects of childhood trauma within a biracial family. Thrilling and suspenseful, King’s exemplary novel will keep readers fascinated until the end.
Debut author King skillfully brings to light the layered, deeply complex machinations that lurk below the surface in families and confer the fragile impression of normalcy; this family’s crosshairs of obligation, love, and resentment, too, are never oversimplified. May is especially captivating: a veritable tyrant who’s also full of sympathetic, deeply human insecurities. Though a few narrative elements are inelegantly constructed—Lily’s flashbacks often read as a plot device—King expertly weaves a compelling family novel ... Layered, variable, and, like spoiled orange juice, sometimes complicatedly bitter.
... hypnotic ... As May’s manipulative behavior escalates and Lily seeks out the truth behind the flashbacks, King rachets up the tension in this perfect blend of psychological thriller and coming-of-age. This author is off to a great start.