OF VENGEANCE by J.D. Kurtness


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A young female psychopath lives a life of escalating crimes, including murder.

“Let’s be honest,” muses the narrator of this voice-driven novella by Kurtness, a French-language author who's a member of Canada's Indigenous Innu Nation. “Who hasn’t fantasized about shooting someone in the face with a hunting rifle?” Each morning she looks into the mirror and affirms her prowess as a murderer. In chapters alternating between the killer’s past as a spying, calculating teen and her present as a reclusive, perturbed criminal, we observe her increasing craving for justice and vengeance. “Death is cleansing,” she tells us. “It makes us better people than we actually were.” Though her first kill—as a girl—is almost accidental, it's the “euphoria” it gives her that leads her toward a life of revenge crimes: Setting free the dogs of cruel owners and stuffing the tailpipes of unsafe drivers with expandable foam. She says “the art of vengeance requires both energy and risk,” so she keeps herself fit and observant, planning for the perfect crime, when she’ll get to see the face of the dying as he knows he is about to die. She speaks with a detached coldness reminiscent of Camus’ Meursault, saying, “My theory [is] that all good and evil are relative, that the world has its own distinct meaning for each and every one of us,” yet her crimes are less a reaction to the world around her and more the result of patient, careful planning and execution. “Like a magician,” she says, “I focus people’s attention away from where the sleight of hand occurs.”

A chilling justification of a life of violence, as nonchalant as it is grim.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4597-4375-5
Page count: 152pp
Publisher: Dundurn
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019