My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Dark Vanessa

Kate Elizabeth Russell

fiction Contemporary Thriller
challenging dark emotional hopeful reflective medium-paced

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Expected publication: January 23rd 2020

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher.

‘A package of dynamite’ Stephen King

‘The book everyone will be talking about in 2020’ Louise O’Neill

‘Riveting, compulsive, urgent’ Elizabeth Day

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student of his. Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that. But now, in 2017, in the midst of allegations against powerful men, she is being asked to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

What the community thinks

summary of 1501 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

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Adult/minor relationship (24 reviewers), Sexual assault (17 reviewers), Rape (16 reviewers), Toxic relationship (15 reviewers), Child abuse (15 reviewers), Pedophilia (13 reviewers), Emotional abuse (13 reviewers), Sexual content (10 reviewers), Sexual violence (7 reviewers), Suicidal thoughts (2 reviewers), Suicide (2 reviewers), Violence (1 reviewer), Grief (1 reviewer), Animal death (1 reviewer), Vomit (1 reviewer), Addiction (1 reviewer), and Death (1 reviewer)


Alcoholism (3 reviewers), Suicide (3 reviewers), Addiction (2 reviewers), Rape (2 reviewers), Pedophilia (2 reviewers), Bullying (1 reviewer), Misogyny (1 reviewer), Sexual assault (1 reviewer), Self harm (1 reviewer), Incest (1 reviewer), Drug use (1 reviewer), and Emotional abuse (1 reviewer)


Suicide (5 reviewers), Suicidal thoughts (3 reviewers), Alcoholism (2 reviewers), Grief (2 reviewers), Drug use (2 reviewers), Toxic relationship (1 reviewer), Animal death (1 reviewer), Vomit (1 reviewer), Addiction (1 reviewer), Sexual assault (1 reviewer), Adult/minor relationship (1 reviewer), Pedophilia (1 reviewer), Animal cruelty (1 reviewer), and Death (1 reviewer)


dark 97%
emotional 76%
challenging 64%
sad 63%
tense 46%
reflective 45%
hopeful 8%
informative 4%
mysterious 4%
inspiring 1%


medium 67%
slow 19%
fast 13%

Strong character development?

Yes: 60% | It's complicated: 35% | No: 3% | N/A: 0%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 54% | No: 38% | Yes: 7% | N/A: 0%

Diverse cast of characters?

No: 86% | It's complicated: 6% | Yes: 5% | N/A: 1%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 91% | It's complicated: 5% | N/A: 1% | No: 1%

Average rating


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