Wednesday 10 January 2024

Every Exquisite Thing - Laura Steven

A feminist YA horror-thriller-romance retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray by the TikTok sensation and author of The Society for Soulless Girls…

Penny Paxton is the daughter of an icon. Her supermodel mother has legions of adoring fans around the world, and Penny is ready to begin her journey to international adoration, starting with joining the elite Dorian Drama School.

When Penny’s new mentor offers her an opportunity she cannot refuse, to have a portrait painted by a mysterious artist who can grant immortal beauty to all his subjects, Penny happily follows in the footsteps of Dorian’s most glittering alumni, knowing that stardom is sure to soon be hers.

But when her trusted mentor is found murdered, Penny realises she’s made a terrible mistake – a sinister someone is using the uncanny portraits to kill off the subjects one by one. As more perfectly beautiful students start to fall, Penny knows her time is running out . . .

A seductive and searing exploration of beauty, identity, and what the pursuit of perfection can truly cost.

What did I think?

Every Exquisite Thing is an incredibly thought-provoking and powerful novel that really makes you question why we strive for what we perceive as perfection.  It’s a modern day retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray and although I haven’t read Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, I know the premise. 

Penny Paxton is following in her mother’s footsteps when she enrols at the Dorian Drama Academy.  Penny just wants her mother to be proud of her but her mother doesn’t seem to have a maternal or caring bone in her body.  Penny strives to be perfect and when she gets the chance to freeze her image, just as she is now, she jumps at the chance.

It’s incredibly thought-provoking and really rather sad to think about what is beneath the surface of the perfect images we see on screen.  Would you rather be happy or appear to be perfect but be miserable inside?

We are all perfect in our own way and we shouldn’t listen to anyone who tells us we’re not.  There’s an incredible line in the book that is very powerful and I can’t stop thinking about it:
“I was so perfect before the world told me otherwise.”
As well as being a powerful warning about obsession with self-image, Every Exquisite Thing is a very compelling, dark and captivating story.  It’s a fantastic retelling that brings a classic novel bang up to date and into the hands of a new audience.

An unforgettable book and a highly recommended read.

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