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Can a child really be born evil?

The Push – Ashley Audrain

Released: 7th January 2021

Psychological Thriller Fans rating - 91% ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Psychological fiction

Premise: Blythe, a young mother, is convinced her daughter, Violet is a monster. But it’s hardly surprising given the way her own mother treated her, and her grandmother treated her mother. But which will prevail – nature or nurture?


I absolutely loved this book, but let’s be clear from the outset, it’s not a psychological thriller, even though it's being discussed as such in the thriller forums.

I’d probably categorise it as psychological fiction as it deals with the innermost thoughts, fears and desires of the protagonist Blythe – but it does not have the requisite tropes and structure of a thriller.

It’s probably closer to literary fiction, but don’t let that put you off. This is a highly readable and accomplished book – and in places, disturbing and heart-breaking.

The story centres on Blythe and her relationship with her daughter, Violet.

Blythe is convinced that there’s something wrong with her daughter, even when she’s a baby.

She believes she’s manipulative, uncaring and self-centred, despite the reassurances of Blythe’s husband that she just needs to make more of an effort.

But as the book goes on and Violet grows older, the more convinced Blythe becomes of the child’s inherent ‘badness.’

Blythe is convinced it was inevitable. Both her grandmother and her mother were difficult, distant and seemingly cruel women.

The ‘bad’ gene just seems to be a dominate force in the female line of the family.

Audrain cleverly takes you as the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions as she beautifully paints some heart wrenching scenes which constantly ripe you from one belief to another – is Violet really evil or is it in her mother’s imagination?

There’s a shocking moment at the halfway point that seems to finally provide conclusive proof that Violet is the bad apple her mother has always thought she is.

But even then, Audrain had me doubting myself. And you’re not really given the chance to make up her mind until the final shocking sentences of the book.

Utterly compelling, it’s one of those novels that leaves you thinking about the characters long after you’ve finished reading.

Highly recommended if you’re looking for something a bit different.


Blythe and Violet. Mother and daughter.

It's a bond like no other.

But what if your little angel is a monster?

And what if no one sees it but you?


AMAZON US (paperback)

*Please note - while I'm not affiliated with the author, I do make a small commission on purchases made through these links.


AJ Wills is the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.

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