Book Review | With Malice by Eileen Cook

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It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.



(beware of spoilers)

In the past few weeks – probably months – I have been in a real mystery/triller kick. I’ve binge-watched the first season of How to Get Away With Murder (if anyone has seen the ending, can we talk about it? I’m traumatized!). I am currently obsessed with another murder-mystery series on Netflix: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I just can’t get enough of it. If you have some recommendations, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!

So I was browsing through my bookshelves the other day and I noticed this little book. I calmly read the synopsis and scammed through the first pages. Before I knew it, I was hooked. I stayed up all night to reach the end. At first sight, With Malice did not appear as a gut-wrenching, mind-twisting book. But oh boy. How wrong I was!

Throughout the entire story, I had absolutely no idea to what might’ve happened. I felt a big plot twist coming, but never I believed Jill could’ve killed Simone. I mean, I’ve considered it in the beginning and almost declared myself insane soon after. I literally noted in my notebook while I was reading: ‘It’s obvious Jill didn’t do it, but I can’t think of how else the accident might’ve happened. Sometimes I suspect everyone, other times I have absolutely no clue.’. I love when an author can do that to me, make me internally wacko. I can only dream of being so manipulative and evil.

This was my immediate reaction when I realized Jill actually killed Simone.


At first, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. 555

Then shock came in.546546

Finally, I understood everything and was amazed by the deceit and incredible betrayal.

I was sad she ended up as the killer because I could relate to Jill so many times it was spooky. She was sarcastic, loved to travel and was interested in history. There is something else, too. I will go on a school trip to Italy in a few months! I guess I’ll have to prepare myself for things to go down.

In general, Eileen Cook has done such a great job writing this story. The writing was beautiful and clear. The story flowed. She has also done an amazing job in doing her research. I appreciated the excerpts of a travel guide about Italy and the conversations with her therapist, Dr. Weeks.

One bit in the story really messed with my head. It still does, to be honest.

You might meet someone who is charming, or handsome, or smart and creative, but you rarely get all of it together. The problem is that we want to. Sometimes we want the missing grace to be there so badly that we almost imagine that it is— our brain creates it and refuses to let us see that it’s not. Then something happens, and we realize that all we’ve fallen for is the idea of something, not the reality.

Still, I couldn’t give this book five out of five stars. Even though this book messed with my head, I thought certain aspects lacked in originality or could be quite predictable. I knew almost for sure that her cyber bully was Simone. It was either she or Jill’s father. I’d also never suspected Nico as Simone’s killer. I would’ve liked if he were more present in this story. But the main turn-off was that this book didn’t actually take place in Italy. I chose this book mostly because of this factor. And from the beginning of the story, she was already back in America!

To anyone who has read this story, didn’t this concept ring a bell? A girl with a dead/missing friend and a mystery around it. It continuously reminded me of Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout. They differed in some aspects, but in other, they seemed so similar!


Overall this was a very entertaining read. To me, the last chapter changed everything. Only now I understand that there was only one solution to this story. And I love it so much!

Thank you for reading! Liesje



2 thoughts on “Book Review | With Malice by Eileen Cook

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