Book Reviews

The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

I fell in love with Rachel Kapelke-Dale after The Ballerinas When NetGalley had an option for her latest novel, The Ingenue, I snapped it up just as quickly as I could. I love finding newer authors that I can support and obsess over.

The Story

My Dark Vanessa meets The Queen’s Gambit in this new novel of suspense about the bonds of family, the limits of talent, the risks of ambition, and the rewards of revenge.

When former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis returns home to Milwaukee after her mother’s unexpected death, she expects to inherit the family estate, the Elf House. But with the discovery that her mother’s will bequeathed the Elf House to a man that Saskia shares a complicated history with, she is forced to reexamine her own past–and the romantic relationship that changed the course of her life–for answers. Can she find a way to claim her heritage while keeping her secrets buried, or will the fallout from digging too deep destroy her?

Set against a post #MeToo landscape, The Ingenue delves into mother-daughter relationships, the expectations of talent, the stories we tell ourselves, and what happens when the things that once made you special are taken from you. Moving between Saskia’s childhood and the present day, this dark, contemporary fairy tale pulses with desire, longing, and uncertainty, as it builds to its spectacular, shocking climax.

My Thoughts

In my recent review of Seven Husbands, I mentioned how I generally like to give an author three books before I will stop reading what they produce. Right now, Rachel Kapelke-Dale is 1 for 2.

I was massively disappointed by The Ingenue. Severely, massively, HUGELY disappointed. The rest of this review may sound partially like a rant or like I’m complaining, but I really don’t see too much of anything that was redeeming in this book.

I believe that Rachel Kapelke-Dale does expertise really well. She embodied the world of ballet, and she wrote as a piano prodigy in this book. I appreciate that dedication, and it isn’t a style of writing you see too often.

Now, spoilers abound in the rest of this review, so proceed with caution.

This book was so incredibly whiney! I don’t know what it was about it, but that is the vibe that I got. The tangents just made no sense. Homegirl sleeps with a man 30+ years older than her (that is statutory rape for how old she was), and then fabricates this entire idea that her mother gave him the house for him to keep his mouth shut?! To be clear, whether or not that was the case was never confirmed. That’s a massive thread just left dangling in the wind.

Then, the icing on the cake, SHE LOCKS HIM IN HER SOUNDPROOF ATTIC? Are you kidding me?! Oh, and then she burns the house down so no one gets it because they had fallen too far behind on payments, with this older man maybe or maybe not inside said soundproof attic.

And the blurb mentions it gets into mother-daughter relationships? Kind of, but not really. That’s just all the guessing she does. Her mom had a good head on her shoulders and was portrayed as nothing but nice. And a “post #MeToo landscape”?! Come on. That’s just something to try and hook people. There was no female empowerment in this book. (Sorry ladies, you can’t get to punish disgusting men by locking them in any soundproof rooms. That’s not real.)

I mean, it feels like a book I would have written when I had my dad’s old laptop and fancied myself a writer when I was 12. Full of plot holes and loose ends and just pure nonsense.

I’m not going to tell you to not get The Ingenue because I still believe in supporting newer authors, especially newer female authors. If you’re going to get it, maybe get a Kindle version or request it from your local library.

The Ingenue is available wherever books are sold on December 6, 2022.

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