In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce – aka the book that keeps me up at night weeks after reading it!

Posted January 21, 2021 by Jess C. in book reviews / 2 Comments

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce – aka the book that keeps me up at night weeks after reading it!In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce
Published by Penguin on January 19, 2021
ISBN: 9780593102589
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Historical, Crime
Pages: 480
Source: NetGalley

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history--and the men who drove her to it.
They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams--their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.
The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she'd given up, what was taken from her, how she'd suffered, surely they'd understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That's all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

My first thought after finishing In the Garden of Spite:

WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST READ?!?!?!?! My daughter just asked if I’m okay and the answer is NO! I’m definitely NOT okay!!!

“They never expected me to hold a grudge.”

Those words will haunt me for quite some time now.

My review/thoughts:

I admit I’ve been fascinated by fictionalized stories of serial killers. Usually, they don’t haunt me in my dreams and keep me up at night. But this… this… THIS has scarred my brain, I think. And (unfortunately) also caused me to want to learn more about the serial murderess Belle Gunness.

I literally lost count of how many bodies had dropped by the time I made it to the mid-point of this novel, but that’s not what kept me reading. It was the way Belle was portrayed as yes, a killer, but also a victim whose compulsion to kill was deeply embedded as a way to protect herself and her children. I hated that I kept finding myself feeling just a teensy bit sad for her. And then she’d do something completely horrid and turn my stomach and I’d have to set my Kindle down and hold my babies super tight because.. UGH! This was horrible!!! (But in a good, super creepy, can’t ever close my eyes or trust people again sorta way. )

Do I recommend this to fans of historical fiction who enjoy a good serial killer story? ABSOLUTELY!!! But make sure you’re in a good head space before you pick this one up, because it WILL keep you up at night and send shivers down your spine!

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with an e-galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About Jess C.

Jess Combs was born and raised in Charleston, WV. She loves to travel and has been almost all over the US - her favorite trip being Route 66 with her eldest daughter. In her spare time, Jess is a ravenous reader, expert knitter, occasional runner, and hand quilter. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, six kids, and two dogs. She enjoys the outdoors and dreams of raising sheep to supply her with a neverending yarn stash.

2 responses to “In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce – aka the book that keeps me up at night weeks after reading it!

  1. Ellie Rayner

    Oh wow! I just found this book on a 2021 release list yesterday and added it to my TBR because I adore historical fiction and anything to do with crime and now that I’ve read your review I am 10000% won over! What a fantastic review, this book sounds great!

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