I don’t often like to review books for fear of giving too much away but, this book left me speechless, sickened, emotionally drained and yet, I simply could not put it down. I read it over three evenings, whilst consuming several peanut butter m&m cupcakes and was disturbed by how much I enjoyed it.
The End of Alice tells the story of a paedophile spending life in prison for the murder of a 12 year old girl, writing letters to his 19 year old pen-pal, who is enthralled in the seduction of a 12 year old boy, and coming to terms with the atrocities he has committed. A review on Goodreads likened it to Humbert Humbert with a knife. A phrase I had somewhat taken to heart while reading this book.
From the get go, this is not an easy read. The unidentified narrator jumps into the story of how he met his very own lolita, intertwined with letters from the girl whom he suggests will be his protege. There is no subtlety in the language, no sly nods to the reader. Every word is brutal and cold, like ice water trickling down your spine. There is some of the pretense of romance, as in Nabokov’s own masterpiece, culminating in a similar climax. As a result, it is difficult not to compare the two books.
The book is 275 pages in length and not one sentence was wasted or irrelevant. It begins with the teenager choosing her unwitting victim, drawing him into her life with shy smiles and promises of tennis lessons while our narrator reads her secrets from his prison cell. As the teenager descends further into darkness, the narrator’s reason for imprisonment is slowly unravelled, between distressing encounters with his gay cell mate and stories from his youth.
What surprised me most, was that this book was written by a woman. The masculine voice is so well defined, it is almost impossible to believe. This is by far the best thing A.M. Homes has written and one of the most twisted stories of abuse I’ve ever read.
The End of Alice is available to purchase on Amazon for Kindle from £7.99.