Cover Image: In the Garden of Spite

In the Garden of Spite

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Historical fiction based on true events.

Camilla Bruce spins a dark, dark, dark tale. Thoroughly bleak but enthralling, nonetheless. I couldn't look away and I couldn't manage to put the book down!

The premise? This novel is about one of the most nefarious, notorious serial killers of all time. Shockingly enough.. a woman! This book was factual and well researched. Very impressive.

Definitely recommended for those that like true crime mixed with historical fiction. A unique twist,
Was this review helpful?
A fictional story based on the true events of Belle Gunness, also known as the Widow of La Porte. Before starting this book I did a little research about the real-life serial killer. The book follows the events of Gunness's life pretty accurately, with the exception of some fictional characters who despite not being historically accurate, really add to the story greatly. The true  death of Gunness is still a mystery.

In this book Belle was born in Norway to a poor family. After a personal hardship which casted her as a black sheep she made her way to America to live with her sister and search for a husband. Despite the advice given, Belle is looking for more than love in a marriage. She wants a husband who can give her everything - food, mansion, children, fancy things, and status in the community. After two of her husbands "mysteriously" leave her a widow, and a move to a farm, Belle again searches for a husband. This time, with the help of her good friend, she advertises in the newspaper for a new man. But...she isn't really looking for a husband. She finds ways to dispose of each of her suitors once she gets a financial gain from them. Then one of her schemes goes completely wrong and she loses everything she's worked for. Find out if she can build herself back up!

This book was really intriguing to me. I've read a lot of FBI thrillers in present day but none have been about a woman and none have been set in the 19th century or based on true events. It was great seeing Belle progress from the feeble young girl she was to the woman in the end. Her methods of killing her victims were not clean so if that bothers you, this book may not be for you. I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 because about 3/4s through the book I got a little bored. The book was full of twists and surprises though and worth the read!

#IntheGardenofSpite #NetGalley #bookreview #bookreviewer #suspensefiction #serialkiller #womenserialkillers #basedonatruestory #crime #murder #widow #bookstagram #bookreview #adultfiction
Was this review helpful?
I think after finishing this book, I will eventually suffer from nightmares at least for one month: it was mad, gruesome, dark, violent, extremely terrifying, disturbing, blood freezing , classic horrific combination of hair splitter- nerve bender- nail biter read! 

And this is based on true events: a close encounter to one of the most dark, vicious, dangerous women serial killers of the history: ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you Belle Gunness ( this time Belle is not definition of beauty, she is a cruel beast! Named herself after Queen Isabelle) A Norwegian American immigrates to the US, for brighter future, starting from the fresh. 

We witnessed to her teenage years: she’s been mentally abused, bullied, belittled by the men from her inner circle for years( work environment and by her own father who insists she is a changeling), lost her child with the harsh kick to her abdomen by the baby’s bastard father who has no intention to marry her. She bled to death but she finds a way to survive, thanks for her determination, sturdiness beat the grime reaper’s ass! 

For years of abuse, humiliation , losses, unkindness of her own family members, poverty, bottled up anger, resentment turn her into some kind of vengeful creator Aileen Wuornos meets Kris Jenner and Frakenstein’s Bride! 

As soon as she takes care of the bastard who killed her unborn child, tarnished her reputation, she writes to her sister Nellie who is having a painful pregnancy, living in Chicago and make her convince to live with her family. 
You may think a young woman could struggle to find her own way in the new continent. But guess what: Little Brynhild (her birth name) changes her name as Belle as soon as she takes her first steps to the new continent. She has a plan. She will never be hungry or suffer from poverty again and no other men will harm her! 

Well, I don’t want to give more spoils but I have to say: she reached most of her goals: she became wealthy and she married ( if you don’t count her husbands start to die suspiciously and any men she involves with vanished into thin air!)

This is the fictionalization of true crime story: Belle is hungry: she never satisfies with the things she has. She always wants more! She is lustful! She has uncontrollable temper. She ruthless and she is a real actress who can deceive anybody about her innocence. 

This book was too long but I cannot stop reading and interestingly I thought if there were 300 more pages, I would certainly read and enjoy it!

This is well written, mind blowing, extremely intense, dazzling, riveting novel. I devoured slowly but each chapter was like heavy meals which take extra time to absorb properly. 

Honestly I didn’t enjoy the previous debut novel of the author but this one surprised me. The author succeeded a detailed, meticulous, outstanding job with layer characters. I enjoyed both Belle and her sister Nellie’s POVS. 

I highly recommend this incredible novel to true crime and psychological thriller lovers. 

Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for sharing this outstanding ARC with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Was this review helpful?
This was ultimately a great fictional imagining of the inner world of a real life black widow, but it was a bit on the long side. The beginning chapters on Bella's origin and her sister's life felt like they were given more space than the time when Bella was actually in her flow of killing people. 

By the time I got to Bella living on the farm I was excited to get to the more fast-paced and creepy parts of the book. I am not the biggest fan of historical fiction, but was intrigued about the true life basis of this story. If you are into historical fiction, true crime, or intriguing female protagonists, you will enjoy this book.
Was this review helpful?
This book was very intriguing;  however, also very dark.  I did not know what I was getting into when I started In the Garden of Spite, but I was quickly hooked.  The story and characters are very well developed and believable, which in a historical fiction book is important.  I really enjoyed following Bella's life and learning how events shaped her morbid decisions.  In the end, I would definitely recommend this book to mystery and historical fiction fans, although I would warn them of the sometimes graphic nature of this story.
Was this review helpful?
This is one of the best books I have read in awhile. Very intriguing from beginning to end and hard to put down. This book was a roller coaster ride. Just when I thought things had calmed down, I turned the page and BAM! I got pulled right back in again. I absolutely loved this book and the way it was written. Just fantastic. Any lover of historical fiction especially true crime will love this. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this.
Was this review helpful?
OMG! This one was definitely a teeth-gnasher! Bella was a force, deadly one, and multifaceted. I'm appalled thinking this character is based on a true serial killer yet couldn't look away from the blood. I do think the author should have ended the novel with the last news article -- just added a few more details to allow readers to assume their own ending though... may have added another layer of pondering ;)
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book so much!  So little is known about the why of the murders committed by Belle Gunness, but  Camilla Bruce provides believable, compelling circumstances, though fiction, where you can see the creation of Belle unfold, without pulling any punches on the murders she committed.  It is easy to both despise and feel incredibly sorry for Belle.  I am happy to recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
I so enjoyed this book. The story of Belle Gunness was not one I’d ever heard before...and I had so much fun reading about her. And then researching her after finishing this book. 

In this story, Belle went through a lot by the time she was a young teenager. And it begs the question...what can you survive? And will you still be you?  She’s clever and driven and determined to grab all that she can from life and won’t let anyone keep her from it. 

I think the author did a great job taking what was known and incorporating into the story, while also finding opportunities to add her own details and twists on the characters.  Definitely recommend this book, you can get yours in January 2021!  Big thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for the chance to read this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?