Bad Fruit – Ella King


Every evening she pours Mama a glass of perfectly spoilt orange juice. She arranges the teddy bears on Mama’s quilt, she puts on her matching pink clothes. Anything to help put out the fire of Mama’s rage.


But Mama is becoming unpredictable, dangerous. And as she starts to unravel, so do the memories that Lily has kept locked away for so long.

She only wanted to be good, to help piece Mama back together. But as home truths creep out of the shadows, Lily must recast everything: what if her house isn’t a home – but a prison? What if Mama isn’t a protector – but a monster . . .

Book Info: Print Length: 319 pages. Publisher: HarperCollins. Publication date: 18 Aug 2022

Ella King is a Singaporean novelist living in London. She read Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University and is a corporate lawyer. A graduate of Faber Academy’s novel-writing programme, she won the Blue Pencil Pitch Prize 2019 and came third in the Aurora Prize for Short Fiction 2019. She was inspired to write Bad Fruit by the stories her grandmother told her and her volunteer work with anti-human trafficking and domestic violence charities.

My Review:

Firstly, can we just have a look at that stunning cover? Isn’t it absolutely beautiful? So, can you judge a book by it’s cover.. well if you are looking for a stunning debut, beautifully written then absolutely YES you can! Bad Fruit is Ella King’s debut novel and is a deliciously dark look at dysfunctional families and toxic mother-daughter relationships.

I chose to read Bad Fruit with 9 member of my online book club as a “Buddy Read” and we agreed to start it together and read the first 10 chapters and discuss online the following day. Having met Ella King at a book festival in September I thought this would be a nice, gentle story about families because Ella is such a lovely, friendly and sweet lady. Blimey… you know that saying “it’s always the quiet ones..” well I’m not so sure I want to meet Ella again as this one of the darkest books I’ve read.

Lily is the youngest child of 3. Born to an English father and a Singaporean Mother, she is spending her last summer at home before leaving to start at Oxford University. Her older sister and brother have left home and it falls upon Lily to act as a buffer between her warring parents. I don’t want to say too much about the storyline because I think the reader needs to go into this book with an open mind. This is NOT a thriller so there aren’t any twists or shocks, but it is a very emotional and hardhitting story which needs to be heard.

This is NOT an easy read and it touches on some extremely sensitive topics like Child Abuse, Neglect, Mental Health, however Ella King has an absolutely beautiful writing style. None of the characters are particularly likeable and some are absolutely disgusting and hateful, but all of them are believable and quickly get under the readers skin.

This is a perfect book for a buddy read, because I absolutely needed the little breaks between chapters to stop and think about what I had just read and how I was feeling. At times I felt dirty and unclean but this is a testament to Ella’s talent for storytelling.

This is one author I will be following closely (but not in real life, because I’m pretty scared of her now!).

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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