Obsession and Distortion

Our Kind of Cruelty: A Novel - Araminta Hall

Araminta Hall takes the concept of an unreliable narrator to a whole new level in her latest novel, Our Kind of Cruelty.  Mike Hayes is, by all appearances, a successful man.  He has overcome a dismal childhood that forced him into the foster care system, and now is a wealthy and cosmopolitan man.  He narrates this story of his one true love and describes their connection as predestined. Mike is convinced that their marriage would be the inevitable culmination of a perfect life. The object of his undying affection is “V,” a woman he met in college who shares his affinity for a seduction game they call “the Crave.”  A business opportunity across the Atlantic has separated them for two years, followed by a falling out that led to their recent estrangement.  Mike returns from New York, determined to win V back with a new house and an opportunity for a fresh start.  Shortly after his arrival, he is shocked to receive an invitation to the wedding of his beloved and another man.  Still, he is convinced that V is just introducing another iteration of their game of “Crave.”  As the novel continues, Mike’s motivations, true character and disturbing past are revealed. The reader begins to question his level of delusion about his relationship with V, and wonders at what lengths he would go to maintain it.  Hall constructs a novel that teeters on the edge of violence, with a seeping feeling of dread. There were parts of the book that seemed a bit repetitive and overly graphic, and readers with a heightened sensitivity to sexual violence might find Our Kind of Cruelty a challenge. As a character study and experiment with perspective, it is a nice example of how unchecked desire can corrupt the truth.