Black Iris by Leah Raeder

May 27th, 2015 Kimberly Review 35 Comments

27th May
Black Iris by Leah Raeder
Black Iris
by Leah Raeder
Narrator: Grace Grant
Length: 11 hours and 33 minutes
Genres: Dark Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Heat Level: One FlameOne FlameOne FlameHalf a Flame
Narration: 4 cups

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for. If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate. She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own. But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help. Which was the plan all along.Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true. She's going to show them all.

twisted Audiobook warning WTF?

Dark, twisted and unexpected Black Iris by Leah Raeder grabs hold of the reader and does not let go. I was pleased for the opportunity to review the audio version of Black Iris narrated by Grace Grant. From its unreliable narrator to the dark, jaw dropping twists this dark, suspenseful tale is one you will not soon forget.

Caffeinated Aspects:

  • If unreliable narrators and dark tales filled with violence, addiction and damaged soul’s intrigues you then grab those earbuds. Raeder’s writing is beautiful, twisted, gripping and utterly soul wrenching. It is a story about vengeance, hate, prejudice, loss and love. Black Iris visits all those dark places your mother warned you about. Grace Grant does a brilliant job capturing the characters and setting the tone as she guides you down the rabbit hole.
  • Our protagonist Laney Keating is an unreliable narrator and like her or love her, she takes the reader on one twisted mind-f@ck of a journey as she seeks revenge. Learning her story and traveling with her will have you cringing, feeling sorry for her, loathing her, understanding and misunderstanding her. It is like watching a train-wreck you do not want to see but you cannot quite turn away.
  • I loved Raeder’s writing style it was almost lyrical as she weaved in quotes from authors and poets that eloquently expressed Laney’s feelings. Throughout this twisted tale, she addresses some dark subjects that include mental disease, drug addiction, lesbianism and bisexuality. We witness multiple partner encounters, prejudice, revenge and death. It is sometimes cruel, shockingly truthful at times and touches on the darkest aspects of humanity. Shocking, brilliant, and what the bloody hell all came to mind as I listened.
  • Black Iris held me spellbound even as I shuttered. It was like a haunted fun ride at the Jersey shore. I held on because I could not imagine where the story would turn next. The last quarter of the book had me gasping as Raeder took even this experienced rider through unexpected twists and revelations. Her ability to make you loathe and love the characters was impressive and she took her time fleshing out the story and provided a satisfying ending for the reader.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • Black Iris is dark and I loved this twisty tale, but my friend and I talked about the book and maybe it is our age, but we both felt that it romanticized drug usage and alcohol addiction. Part of this stems from the author’s writing style and her poetic interpretation of the character’s emotions and mindset. I am not saying it was not portrayed correctly in the story but I am giving you fair warning, this is not a read for unstable or impressionable young minds.
  • Raeder takes a no holds barred approach to drugs, mental illness, death, and prejudices, particularly against lesbians and homosexuals. It is dark and may be disturbing for some readers.

Black Iris was a mind-tripping tale that I won’t soon forget.  For me, the audio version enhanced the ride by notching up the suspense and bringing the characters to life. Leah Raeder is an author whose works I plan to continue reading.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

35 Responses to “Black Iris by Leah Raeder”

  1. Teddyree

    I love dark and twisty, and from the sample haha I’m sold. I want it now … you are such an enabler 😉

  2. Mandy

    Glad to see you enjoyed Black Iris. I’ve been on the fence about picking it up, but you sealed the deal. i’m looking forward to it now =D Thanks so much for the great review.

  3. Megan McDade

    I really want to know what it is that the character went though it sound so twisted and intriguing I need to add this to my TRL. Thanks Kim 🙂

  4. Deborah

    Oh, this sounds like a book I’d like! Beautifully written AND screws with your mind! 🙂


  5. Bookworm Brandee

    I’ve seen this book around a bit but your review has me sold. I am enamored with dark, twisty reads – and unreliable narrators, apparently, although I just found out there was a term for them. 😉 I also really like the sound of Raeder’s writing – lyrical prose makes me giddy. That’s probably not a good term considering the theme of Black Iris but I’m definitely going to check out this one.

  6. Ann Noser

    I’ve been intrigued with the premise of this book. Thanks for the review–you made my decision to read this one (hopefully this summer) soon!

  7. Paij Slater

    Kim, Kim, Kim…You and Ali are killing my TBR pile. Killing it :). Your review is AWESOME, and it sounds like a must read for me 🙂

  8. Amir

    I’m glad you enjoyed this too Kimba! Laney is so unreliable but after reading the book, that’s what made it so brilliant. I must admit that it took me awhile to fully embrace the book though, but after I connected it all together I was amazed on how it just made sense. I never actually thought much about the alcohol and drug abuse but I think it’s because I knew that I’m reading about destructive and unstable individuals and that’s why they think nothing about getting wasted or doing drugs. I think it’s great you’re giving potential readers a fair warning though, this book is not light. oh, I would love to listen to this again on audio! Awesome review! 🙂

  9. Lindy

    I loved this story for it’s lyrical writing, unreliable narration, and ability to surprise me, but agree that it is not a story for young or impressionable minds! Great view Kim 🙂

  10. Leeanna

    Cam Girl is supposed to be lighter 🙂 It’s coming out later this year. Unteachable isn’t quite as dark, either, and it’s already out.

  11. Christy

    I’m so glad you liked this. This was the first book I read that took that stance on sexuality and it meant a lot to me. I loved it! Your decaffeinated aspects were totally fine for me. I’m not saying I approve, but it does all goes on. And it fits the characters.

  12. Benish

    I’m the black sheep who didn’t like this novel.. I thought the writing and the flawed characters were amazing. The lesbian romance was quite diverse too but the plot wasn’t good enough for me. I do agree about romanticizing drug usage and alcohol. Lovely review.

  13. Ro

    Yes, I love a courageous author who does the research allowing her to dig so deeply into the minds of characters who are coping with these painful topics, and this is a book I want to read to find out how it ends. Your review really roped me in! Hugs…

  14. Lauren

    I actually won a paperback of this from the publisher. I just got it last week and I can’t wait to start reading it!

  15. Blessie (Mischievous Reads)

    Seems like Black Iris is either a hit or miss book. I’ve read a lot of reviews that didn’t like this book at all, but I’m very intrigued. I like my dysfunctional reads. 😀 Awesome review, Kimba!

  16. Ramona

    I’ve heard wonderful things about this one, and I can’t wait to read it. But I agree with you about making sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. It’s a great idea to include an warning in the review.

  17. Lanie

    I always support other Laneys! This book sounds good, too and the cover is fantastic. I’ll have to get the reader version, I space out during audio books lol.

  18. Lauren

    Ooh I actually just got this one on audio and your review has me even more excited to listen to it! I think I might actually voluntarily do the dishes tonight so I can zone out and listen. 🙂

  19. Debbie Haupt

    Oh wow, I think this may be a little too dark for me right now Kim, but I will keep it on my radar. Thanks for the honest review and warning. Great review too by the way!

  20. Heidi

    I keep reading excellent reviews for this one, but I am not thrilled about your remarks regarding the dark parts. I am not about dark and disturbing these days, so I may shelve this for another time. Thanks for the honest review.

  21. Trish

    I like the narration so I’ll deffo be checking this one out when I have a spare audible credit. I love unreliable narrators and dark themes so I think this will be my cup of tea. I don’t really like what you have to say about it romanticising drug and alcohol abuse but at least I’ll be prepared for that now.

  22. Berls

    I have to be in the right mood before picking this one up, but it appeals to me. I’m a little nervous about the prejudice aspects – I know it will make me super angry. But i like it when books make me angry too 🙂 Thanks for sharing – I’ll have to mark it for audio, the narration sounds good.

  23. Sophia Rose

    Not sure its for me because of how dark it goes, but I can appreciate the writing talent that would pull one in and the subject of prejudice and mental illness along with an unreliable narrator (only read one of those before and loved it) that adds to the appreciation.

  24. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I do enjoy unreliable narrators….if there are some others that give us a balance. The dark side is one I like to visit now and then. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Katherine

    I think I may try this on audio as the premise sounds intriguing. I can handle dark and twisted in audio sometimes better than print. Great review!

  26. Lori

    I’ll definitely try a sample of this on Audio. I’m not too keen on the romanticizing of addiction but the story sounds like a real page turner, thanks for sharing Kimberly! Great review 🙂

  27. kindlemom1

    Glad you enjoyed this one, it seems like a lot of readers/reviewers are and I know Christy really did. I’m not sure if I’m prepared for how dark it is just yet but I will be reading this. 😉

  28. Nick

    I’ve been meaning to read a Raeader book for a while now, but I don’t think the topics would appeal to me. I like mind-fuck books though, but I’m still nervous at how dark the book seems. I’ll just have to get over it huh?
    Great review, Kim!

  29. Red Iza

    I may be crazy but I’m a sucker for books about mental illness, and how could I resist a review like that ? 😉

  30. Cynthia

    Ahhh . . . I loved this book so much. I am glad you enjoyed it. I do understand about the alcohol and drug use though. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it too much but you are right: it is romanticized a bit too much.

  31. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I have this one on audio too. It received so much praise that I was simply unable to resist. But all the drugs and alcohol and generally self-destructive behavior bothers me immensely too. I think it’s a parent thing. I just keep imagining my kid and the dread takes my breath away.