Cover Image: The Violence

The Violence

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Member Reviews

Anyone looking at Chelsea’s life would think it ideal.  She is pretty, has two beautiful children, a fabulous home, lovely clothes, and a handsome husband.  But remember the old saying that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.  Chelsea’s husband brutalizes her; he is abusive physically and mentally, breaking her down to the point she feels insignificant.  And the thing that scares her more is that he has begun berating and harming their eldest daughter, Ella, too.  
Chelsea feels trapped.  With Covid last year, she felt like the walls of her home and her mind were closing in.  This year with the newest pandemic, the VIOLENCE, she feels the continued isolation will drive her insane.  She wants a way out of this marriage but where can she go?  David, her husband, will never let her leave.  It is not safe outside because of the VIOLENCE, but it doesn’t feel so safe inside the house either since David has taken to choking her until she passes out.  Sooner or later, he will go too far and kill her.  Then what will happen to her girls, Ella and Brooklyn.
The VIOLENCE is a horrible disease.  It comes on quickly and quietly and when the violent urge is over, someone is usually dead.  Chelsea is beginning to see the opportunity this presents.  An opportunity to rid herself of David.  Will she able to do it?  What will happen next?  Read on and see … 

I really liked this book.  It was well written and heartfelt.  Any woman who has been abused mentally, physically, or both can understand Chelsea’s dilemma.  Often the abuser has so isolated the victim, she feels there is no place to turn for help.  Delilah Dawson has taken this social problem, made it into an interesting work of fiction, and added a fresh perspective on a solution.

Robyn Heil, Buyer for Brodart Co.
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It was intriguing to read about a virus that was contracted through an insect instead of through people. True to the title's name, the book is very violent. Full of domestic, emotional, and sexual abuse. I don't think I was truly ready to read a novel about another pandemic happening after COVID had ended. All the triggers these ladies felt, almost triggered me.

Very will written novel. I was emotionally invested and rooting for Chelsea and Ella in their journeys.
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Reminds me a lot of The Power by Naomi Alderman. I really enjoyed this and I was drawn in very quickly. I could not put it down.
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First off, if you are triggered by vivid descriptions of domestic violence, this is not your book. Not every book is for every person. This has that and more. 
Basic story, right after the Corona virus got through giving us Covid-19 and we were totally over being sick, a new virus popped up. It caused people to go berserk and kill whomever was in their path with no memory of having done so. It was spread by mosquitos. They spread enough bad viruses already, so that was possible. A vaccine was developed, but the formula was grabbed by an opportunist who patented it and charged $30,000 a dose. You only needed one dose, and it would both cure you if you had the disease and prevent it if you didn't. Not bad for one needle-stick. It turns out the cure is easy to make and some people are out breaking the law by making the cure and teaching others to make it and giving it away for free. 
As for the story, we have three generations of women in a family we are following. There is Patricia, called Patty when she was a broke minimum-wage single mother. Her daughter, Chelsea, grew up positive her mother hated her. Chelsea married a man who abused her and her oldest daughter. Chelsea has two daughters, Ella, a senior in high school, and Brooklyn, only 5 years old. Ells didn't escape the abuse of men. Her father choked her and her boyfriend treated her like property. 
The book's chapters follow these three women from the start of the Violence epidemic until its chemical end with the vaccine. I don't know if any of them would have studied their lives and made the changes they did without the virus changing their circumstances.
I have to say, I loved the book. It was a very easy read (but then I read zombie books whenever I can get my hands o a new one). There were even spots where I burst out laughing. Yes, there were places that were hard to read and made me feel sad, but not as many and I'm glad of that. I still feel, beyond feeding birds and fish, mosquitos have no good purpose.
I received the copy of the book I read for this reader review from the publisher on Netgalley.
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Interesting material and ideas at play, but not all of it works. An illness that causes uncontrollable rage is an intriguing concept and Dawson does a fantastic job incorporating the horrors of domestic violence within the story. Although presenting the tale through three perspectives from three generations within one family is clever, Chelsea's point of view is consistently the strongest, while Ella's takes a while to get going and Patricia is presented as such a loathsome, unpleasant individual early on that it took me until nearly the end to finally warm to her. My biggest gripe is that at 500+ pages the book is far too long; it could have easily lost at least 100 pages and still retained a good flow.
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This is the first DELILAH S. DAWSON novel that I've read, but I should point out that we have appeared in Project Insider, an anthology filled with comics, cats, and crafts.

Up front, the author presents a note of trigger/content warnings which includes a little of her own personal back story of abuse. As she states: The Violence includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and includes animal death and graphic violence. Some of these scenes may be distressing for some readers.

She was not wrong.


Of the three protagonists, Chelsea Martin (sandwiched between her mother and her two daughters) immediately opens the books with the kind of marital abuse that made my heart feel like it was being tightened in a vice clamp. It got screwed tighter with each paragraph. Chelsea's husband David controls everything about their lives. He abuses her in every possible way. The world they are in is post-COVID but the new pandemic, a virus spread by mosquitos causes people to have blackout episodes were they are silent, yet primal. They will attack anything. Before it was even on the pages, I was rooting for Chelsea to get the Violence to give her husband some payback.

Chelsea is not only relatable to partners who have been abused, but also in her sense of loneliness and career failure. Since she was forced to be a stay-at-home mother, she tries what many women do -- MLM (multi-level marketing) schemes. In Chelsea's story, it's an essential oils brand called Dream Vitality, a satire on the real world brand Young Living. The only person Chelsea can remotely consider a friend is a woman across the street in their development, Jeannie.

[accordion title="Spoiler Alert"]Chelsea's arc takes a surprising turn when she joins a new amateur wrestling league which stages the everyday people to "storm," the word used to refer to a Violence blackout and rage. It's an all-gender league founded by an ex pro-wrestler who has his own inner demons. Since Chelsea can't afford the $30,000 to get the Violence vaccine, she shocks herself by auditioning for the Violence Fighting Ring. She goes from being a woman with no choices and no agency at all to being a role model for thousands of viewers.[/accordion]


Ella is Chelsea's daughter and the main protector of her six-year-old sister, Brooklyn. Ella should be finishing high school in this apocalyptic southern United States world, but her life veers off course hard and fast with nowhere to run. Even when Ella thinks she may be safe under the grandmother's roof, she finds the abrasive, cold, and domineering environment as unbearable as living with her father.

Ella faces her own scenes of abuse from her boyfriend, her father, and her "uncle" Chad (a cop friend of her father). She has more moxie than her mother at the start. Where Chelsea takes the abuse from David (in order to keep him focused on her and not the girls), Ella doesn't take it lying down from her boyfriend. She doesn't fall for any of his apologies. She sees his one abusive moment as a sign of what could come having all the knowledge on the subject from watching what her father does every night to her mother.

If Chelsea is the person who can't escape, Ella is the person biding her time and counting down the minutes until she can. Ella is courageous beyond measure. She never thinks she's above living destitute and stealing food after scraping dead animals off of a floor. She wishes for comfort and safety, but she goes through her days knowing that if she wants it, she'll have to make it happen for herself.


This brings us to the matriarch Patricia. Her past is nothing but Florida white trash, uneducated, and waiting tables to meet the next man she can manipulate with her sex appeal. Readers get to be inside Patricia's head in the moments she experiences her biggest fears: reverting to piss-poor "Patty" again with no rich husband, no big house in a gated community, and saddled with responsibility. Patty barely raised her daughter Chelsea. The well-off version of herself, Patricia, has plenty of chances to come to her family's rescue.

Patricia's arc is classic soap opera pastiche! If you love to hate the soap villains like Erica Kane or Alexis Carrington, you will devour every scene with Patricia. She doesn't exactly come full circle, but she believes she has. There's no way not to avoid hoping she'll grow to be nurturing and loving towards her daughter and granddaughters. When Patricia mistakenly bans Ella from returning to the big, fancy house, Nana accidentally makes herself the primary caregiver of little Brooklyn.


This little girl is constantly protected by those around her. She witnesses terrible things that people always say a child shouldn't experience. It's likely that the extreme trauma all around Brooklyn will be repressed. She's the hope of the family, the delicate flame that people keep lit for warmth.

Story Structure:

Brooklyn's story is no less important even though she never gets to be the point of view character like the others. This is one fault I have with Dawson's breakdown. There are two chapters where readers are popped into other perspectives when it wasn't done through almost the entire book. We don't need the perspective of River, a young man that Ella meets with his friend Leanne. We don't need a chapter from David's abusive POV either. We get more than eighty percent through the novel and suddenly there's David's narration. It's not beneficial though more important than the rando River character. First of all, the book is long(ish) at 512 pages. Secondly, all the perspectives are from the women so shifting to non-binary River and cis/toxic male David, break that pattern in uncomfortable jolts. River is at least a good person, but even his friend Leanne would have made more sense to be part of the narrative since she's the brains of the operation to get the vaccine out to the poor and middle class.


If you think you can handle spending a lot of time in a world of victims waiting for their story arcs to give them the pay out of having agency and satisfaction, then The Violence is fine for you. There were several times when I wanted to ditch it because it takes so long until any of these women catch the breaks they need. I was thrilled with the endings for each of them!

The book design credit is Caroline Cunningham, but I don't know if that's the cover designer. I bring this up because this US edition cover is brilliant with its blood red space and the butcher knife casting the shadow of a person. It's minimalist and eye-catching.
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This will receive a lot of buzz equating it to The Power by Naomi Alderman, and rightly so. But what makes The Violence stand apart is while The Power looked globally and followed many stories, The Violence focuses in very tight on three generations of one family. Riveting.
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Thank you to NetGalley for the digital advance reader copy of this book.

I requested this read in hopes for a scary thriller, but this book is much more.  Beyond horrifying and excellent.  Dawson does a great job hooking the reader in and continuing to surprise throughout.
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The Violence by Delilah S. Dawson was a surprisingly excellent read. I was expecting campy and/or over-the-top gore, and while the gore was there (the camp, however, was not) what I ended up getting was much more than a typical horror story.
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Don’t be fooled by thinking Delilah S. Dawson’s new novel, “The Violence” is a purge-like slasher horror. It’s so much more than that and not even remotely what I expected based on the synopsis. It’s a gripping social horror focusing heavily on feminist themes about breaking free from domestic and generational abuse during a violent pandemic. 

Chelsea Martin is the perfect wife and mother to the outside world. Within the walls of her picture-perfect home, though, she’s a prisoner. Her husband has isolated her, and physically, mentally and emotionally abused her for years. Suffering years of abuse from her own mother Patricia, and despite the abuse at home, Chelsea is a loving and compassionate mother to her two daughters Brooklyn and Ella. Suddenly, there’s a new illness known as The Violence creeping its way into a post-COVID world. With this new pandemic, Chelsea sees what may be her only opportunity to free herself and her daughters from her husband’s violent hands. 

At over five hundred pages, the book is a bit intimidating in size off the bat, however I read it faster than some of my typical three hundred pagers. Dawson snatches you in from the first page and it was nearly impossible to put down. The story is told from multiple perspectives—mainly from Chelsea, Ella and Patricia. We follow these three women as they navigate life separating themselves from the men they’ve come to loathe and each essentially sets out on a journey of self discovery. The storylines are powerful and moving and you will be cheering and very often relating to pieces of each woman’s life. I loved the theme of family though the matriline at the center of it and of the hope and possibility of change that this book promises we can have if only we are brave enough to fight for it. Triggering, emotional, violent and thought-provoking, this was an unexpectedly epic read that I won’t soon forget.
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This was such a good book! It grabbed me from the first page. I loved the suspense and drama in this story!
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One star only because this book wasn't for me and I have to put a rating. Hopefully it will reach the correct audience.  Thanks NetGalley for the advance copy!
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I wish to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book.  I have voluntarily read and reviewed it.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am not sure what I was thinking when I chose to request this book. The title alone should have prepared me but I just was not expecting all the different episodes of violence that I encountered..  I have issues with family abuse and extreme violence and I just could not finish this one.  I read half of it before it became too difficult for me to continue.  If you do not have my issues you might really get into this sci-fi, thriller, mystery,

I applaud the writer for being so creative in her thinking and the reader can easily understand the parallels with the current covid pandemic.
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I kept seeing this all over Instagram, so I requested it. I am so glad that I did because while this may have been the first book I've read by Delilah S. Dawson it will definitely not be my last!
This is one of those books that nothing is ever as it seems. On the outside, Chelsea is the perfect housewife, a daughter, and of course, she is married to her high school sweetheart. While on the outside people would be envious of the life she had but behind closed doors, there is a much more sinister life.
Behind closed doors Chelsea's life is a prison sentence, her high school sweetheart is abusive and makes her home like a prison. David is one of those people who like to get their own way but, if things do not go as planned then he turns into a monster and chaos follows.
Chelsea's mother Patricia is more of she likes the appearance of a happy life and everything but, if there is something wrong she doesn't want to know about it because it will distort her version of reality.
But then life on the outside turns as terrifying as life on the inside because there is a mysterious epidemic that causes people to act out in rage and become violent. Now, Chelsea is going to try to use this to get away from her husband and get to safety! Will she make it? What will happen next? Check out this book and you will not be disappointed!
Thank you Netgalley and Del Rey Books for the opportunity to read and review this, it was definitely a treat and will have you on the edge of your seat the last half of the book!
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of The Violence by Delilah S. Dawson.
Post-covid, a new pandemic is sweeping the warmer climes of the world.  This sickness, called The Violence, causes rage-filled bouts of brutality that often leaves the attackee dead by the hand of the person afflicted with this new illness.  This is the backdrop for a narrative about the four main female characters in the book - Patricia, Chelsea, Ella, and Brooklyn and the violence they endure at the hands of  various men in their lives before the pandemic begins. The Violence only adds to the world they now have to maneouver through as they are all split apart and are try to get back together.  A quick read with an important message about overcoming, finding your spirit of strength, forgiveness, and hope.
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I really loved this book!! It had so many twists and turns. It kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next!! This was my first book by this Author, and it won’t be the last!! Quick read!! Highly recommended!! You won’t be disappointed!!
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I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book. It’s about a plague that follows covid, and I didn’t know if I wanted to read that right now. But it’s about so much more. The new plague causes random bouts of feral violence. But the real story - what this book is actually about - is four women. Three generations. Mothers, daughters, sisters, trapped in a cycle of abuse. Spending their lives making themselves small, quiet and obedient, until finally, they stop being small and quiet. 
I cried. I held my breath in fear. I laughed. I love this book so much. It’s horror and violence but it’s also what happens when women say Enough.
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I received  The Violence from  Netgalley. 

This book is great! There is so much to this story and hearing  the different characters  was a plus.  One of the things I've  started to get into  recently is how the books published in the last year or so handle the pandemic. In this book the covid pandemic is in the recent past. There's a new pandemic  rising up  and it's called Violence, the world isn't sure what it is or what triggers it, but it's starting to spread. Which turns out to be a saving grace for mom and wife Chelsea. She uses The Violence to her advantage from beginning  to end. It's  a bit gory and heavy on the murder and family abuse, a psychological in a some ways. As a fan of thrillers I would for sure recommend.
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Another day, another pandemic related book… I guess it’s about the time all of these would start coming out, but I still question the need to mention COVID in this novel. On the one hand I guess it paints a world that has been ravaged twice and so soon, but I also think the story was unique enough to stand on its own.

I enjoyed the varied narrators in this and the growth seen by the characters. It was a quick read and tackled heavy subjects in a way that felt respectful to the storylines and the despair felt by the characters given their personal and world circumstances. I’d definitely check out more from this author.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The Violence is an all-too-plausible near-future tale of three generations of women in a family scarred and shaped by domestic violence. From grandmother Pat, who accepts maltreatment as a cost of doing business, to her daughter Chelsea, grown up with daughters of her own and no idea how to protect them, to fierce teen Ella, who doesn't know who she wants to be, as long as it's nothing like her mother, they're all trapped by men who think that getting their way is the only way. When a second, post-Covid epidemic sweeps the US, all three of them have to grapple with the violence they've already faced in addition to the terrifying and senseless violence all around - and even within themselves. But the novel refuses to remain grim throughout, with moments of peace and humor and hope spread generously through all three women's journeys toward finding safety, opportunity, and family.
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