In 2021, I read Rachel Kapelke Dale's debut novel "The Ballerinas" and fell in love with it. It was incredibly unique, touching on an area of the arts that I love dearly, but with a very ominous twist. It left me wanting more and eager to find out what happened.

When I found out that she was releasing another novel, I was so excited. The Ingenue sounded so intriguing; the title and the cover were equally as inviting. I received an ARC from NetGalley and read it in late 2022, just in time for it to be released to the public in December 2022.

The Ingenue was just as wonderful as The Ballerinas and gave you an inside look at what it's like to be a child prodigy, and have those around you take advantage of it.

Publisher's Summary

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, Rachel Kapelke-Dale's 
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

As I said above, I really enjoyed The Ingenue. It was incredibly written, so wonderful that I had to wonder if the author had experience as a piano prodigy. 

Because of Dale's writing style, there is a learning curve to understanding and following her stories. It's very mature, detailed and almost poetic, so it just takes some time to follow and appreciate what she is telling you.

Once you get past that, it becomes enthralling and you're entered into her world. 

Being inside Saskia's brain is unique; you see her battling with herself, her father, and her mother's wishes. She is trying her best to please everyone but has lost herself in the process. She is trying to find her way after her mother's death and this huge bombshell that has landed in her lap. It's interesting, touching and at times, hard to read because of the sexual assault language. 

The novel alternates timelines, which is always a fun way to read, between young and adult Saskia; you're able to see how she became who she is and how she's actively rebelling against it. You see the relationship she has with her parents, her friends, her teacher, and the house she grew up in. It's eye opening and adds a lot of value to the story.

The ending of this book is something I didn't see coming and almost makes me want to classify this as a thriller, though I know it is definitely not one. It was a twisted, wicked and deliciously justified way to close out Saskia's story. 

The Ingenue was beautiful, well written and very interesting. If you like fiction that deals with tough topics with a bit of flair, you will really like The Ingenue. 


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