The Ingenue: A Novel (Hardcover)
My Dark Vanessa meets The Queen's Gambit in this new novel of suspense about the bonds of family, the limits of talent, the risks of ambition, and the rewards of revenge.
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.
Praise for The Ingenue:
"Exceptional. This surprising, exhilarating suspense-filled tale of revenge and redemption is hard to put down." ––Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Kapelke-Dale crafts a twisted suspenseful tale of expectations and identity, of love and vengeance, that will leave readers breathless." ––Library Journal
"Kapelke-Dale’s absorbing novel delves into the repercussions of sexual abuse, interspersing tantalizing extracts from Evie’s feminist fairy-tale retellings and fragments of Saskia’s teen years with present events that crescendo to a stunning conclusion. Aptly compared to Kate Elizabeth Russell's much-buzzed-about My Dark Vanessa, The Ingenue is poised to garner similar attention." ––Booklist
"Rachel Kapelke-Dale is an indisputable virtuoso of artful, propulsive suspense driven by the desires of complex female characters. In The Ingenue, she skillfully remixes classic fairy tale and Gothic themes to create an enthralling exploration of what the world does to ambitious women, and what happens when they take their power back. Saskia’s stunning coda will ring in your head long after you turn the final page."
––Layne Fargo, author of They Never Learn
"The Ingenue is a beautiful fever dream of a story, a genre-blending mix of mystery and fairytale that metamorphizes into different stories as you’re reading: an intimate look at the bonds between mothers and daughters, a searing exploration of who you are when you’re no longer exceptional, a knife-edged tale of vengeance. It is utterly enthralling, provocative, and so smart it held me captive until the perfect, sinister end. A book for anyone who was told they were special and is still clawing their way back."
––Ashley Winstead, author of In My Dreams I Hold a Knife
Praise for The Ballerinas:
"The ways in which women torture their bodies in pursuit of creative dreams make for enthralling fictional drama. This terrain proves irresistible in The Ballerinas, a debut novel set in the hothouse atmosphere of the Paris Opera Ballet academy as three students grow up, compete, forge friendships and embark on a trail of destruction...Kapelke-Dale has thought through the larger picture, and examined how trauma and asymmetries of power derail so many dancers."
––The New York Times
"A standing ovation to this debut."
"This highly readable, dramatic look behind the curtains is an unqualified success."
"A well-crafted thriller for fans of Megan Abbott's."
"Deliciously observed emotional tangles"
"Deftly uses the professional dance setting to explore the complexities of female friendships and the lingering impacts of ballet's patriarchal culture as it hurtles toward the bloody conclusion promised on the first pages."