Much talked about by authors, publishers and on social media following accusations of plagiarism. Kate Russell had her hand forced and revealed that this fictional story is actually based on her own life and has taken fifteen years to write.
My Dark Vanessa is a disturbing, provocative, powerful and stunning debut novel. The pupil teacher relationship changes subtly. He seeks Vanessa’s approval, yet he’s always the one in control, manipulating. The story runs on two timelines – present day when the ‘me too’ movement emerged, and going back to when Vanessa was boarding at High School at the start of her relationship with Jacob Strane.
This is not a gratuitous sleazy story. It is very well written and gets to the crux of grooming (Jacob Strane is a master of grooming). It shows how the process is often misunderstood, misinterpreted that a consenting schoolgirl knows her own mind, is in full control of a situation with a man three times her age. Her friends knew, the school knew, her mother knew, yet nobody did anything. And then there’s the guilt, Vanessa feels guilt. This is a masterpiece.