Kate
Elizabeth Russell

Kate Elizabeth Russell is originally from eastern Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Kansas and an M.F.A. from Indiana University. My Dark Vanessa is her first novel.

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I have the feeling you get at the end of some books, when you know the next one won’t be as good...it's a hard story to read and an even harder one to put down…a well-constructed package of dynamite.

Stephen King
on My Dark Vanessa

A brilliant and stunning debut, My Dark Vanessa is utterly truth-rattling, humane in its clarity and chilling in its resonance. An absolute must read.

Gillian Flynn
author of Gone Girl on My Dark Vanessa

It is difficult to write about this subject without falling into predictable tropes or clichés, but Russell manages a brutal originality. In an era of neat furious accounts of victimhood, this novel stands out for elusiveness, its exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power.

Katie Roiphe
The New York Times Book Review on My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa destroyed me. This moving, ferocious story of an all-consuming relationship between a teenager and her teacher traces not just a stolen girlhood, but the aftershocks that haunt trauma survivors years into the future. Gripping, stunningly written, and important —I’ve been waiting for this book. 

Julie Buntin
author of Marlena on My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa is a provocative and disturbing exploration of what happens when manipulation feels like love. It’s Lolita subverted for a post #MeToo world; interrogating the myth of the teenage temptress with a razor sharp intelligence. Russell is interested in neither easy questions nor easy answers, demanding the reader unpack the intersection of power, abuse, and trauma, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us. More than anything else, Russell pushes us to reconsider everything we believe about what a “perfect” victim looks like. Challenging and uncompromising, My Dark Vanessa is the book everyone will be talking about in 2020.

Louise O'Neill
author of Almost Love and Asking For It on My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa is a total masterpiece of tone and point of view, even more impressive for how uninvested it seems in impressing us. It's fascinating and devastating and brilliant. I loved it.

Kristen Roupenian
author of You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” and Other Stories on My Dark Vanessa

A truly remarkable debut, deeply thoughtful, deeply emotional, compelling and disturbing in equal measure. I raced to the ending and then found the book lingered with me long after that last page. It is lingering still. 

Karen Fowler
New York Times bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves on My Dark Vanessa

Russell's debut is a rich psychological study of the aftermath of abuse, and her novel asks readers both to take Vanessa's assertions of agency at face value and to determine the real, psychological harm perpetrated against her by an abusive adult. What emerges is a devastating cultural portrait of enablement and the harm we allow young women to shoulder. "The excuses we make for them are outrageous," Vanessa concludes about abusive men, "but they're nothing compared with the ones we make for ourselves."A gut-wrenching debut.

Kirkus Starred Review
on My Dark Vanessa

Absolutely gripping...a brilliant depiction of how grooming feels from the inside...a darkly compelling story.

Holly Williams
The Observer on My Dark Vanessa

It is difficult to write about this subject without falling into predictable tropes or clichés, but Russell manages a brutal originality. In an era of neat furious accounts of victimhood, this novel stands out for elusiveness, its exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power.

Katie Roiphe
The New York Times Book Review on My Dark Vanessa

Russell’s novel My Dark Vanessa could not be more timely

The Guardian
on My Dark Vanessa