Mystery/Thriller

Review: Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane

A novel chronicling the frustrations of 4 women and how their lives are about to intersect.


Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This blog contains affiliate links. I make a small commission when you decide to buy books via the Amazon or Book Depository purchase links available in the book review's post.


In accordance with my plan to read books about marriage (yes, I’m still doing that), I decided to give this one a shot. What made it more interesting was the fact that it centered around more than just one woman. I wanted to see all of the different issues that could be brought to the forefront by each character. So let’s get on with my review:

Pretty Ugly Lies book cover

Pretty Ugly Lies

by Pamela Crane

Published December 19, 2018 by Bloodhound Books
ISBN: 1912604515

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): What causes a woman to murder her whole family?

Jo’s idyllic life would make most people jealous. Until one day her daughter is abducted and the only way to find her is to unravel her dark past.

Ellie is a devoted wife… until she discovers the pain of betrayal. Now vengeance is all she can think about.

Party-girl Shayla knows how to hide her demons. But when she’s confronted with a life-shattering choice, it will cost her everything.

June knows suffering intimately, though the smile she wears keeps it hidden.

Soon the lives of these four women intersect and one of them is about to snap…

My Review

This book started off with a bang. Too bad it didn’t continue that way.

The Pros: What worked for me

  • I thought the writing was very poetic and flowed nicely. The pacing was spot-on and the twists were well executed.
  • I think the plot was very interesting; while some of the events were predictable, I was still taken aback by the ending and wanted to know how things were going to be concluded.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • My first major problem with this novel were the names of the main characters. Okay, I know this may sound petty at first. But think about it: Jo. Jayne. Jude. Janyn. June. Seriously, why?! The names did NOT have to be this similar and it made it so hard for me to distinguish them. It didn’t help that their personalities were also quite similar. It became cumbersome for me to read this book, so much so that I needed to make a little flowchart of who everyone was and how their story line was developing. And that is way too much work for a reader.
  • I also had a problem with the “issues” presented in this novel. Now, I’m not a wife or a mother so there’s a limit to how much I can understand about the pressures of both of these roles. But some of the problems they mentioned just seemed so bizarre. (Click to reveal spoiler) For instance, one mother described taking care of her kids as a thankless and suffocating job. And I get the suffocating part because I know (from my own mother’s exasperation with me and my sister) that kids can completely consume one’s life. But do you honestly expect your little children to constantly thank you? In that case, all children are thankless, terrible monsters. Some of the perceptions about marriage and children seemed a little too naive, or rather, too dramatic. I guess I just don’t like characters that are materialistic and whine a lot.

This novel just didn’t work for me on a lot of fronts. I think the writing style was good but the final reveal combined with the lack of connection with the characters was a real downfall. For that reason, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

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