“[A] blistering psychological thriller.” —The New York Times Book Review
"A compelling debut that fizzes with tension from start to finish, blending the subtle erudition of literary fiction with the drama and suspense of the very best thrillers. Masterful in its evocation of the complexity of mother-daughter relationships, this is a darkly fascinating, tightly plotted narrative from a writer to watch." —Harper’s Bazaar (UK)
Just graduated from high school and waiting to start college at Oxford, Lily lives under the scrutiny of her volatile Singaporean mother, May, and is unable to find kinship with her elusive British father, Charlie. When May suspects that Charlie is having an affair, there’s only one thing that calms May down: a glass of perfectly spoiled orange juice served by Lily, who must always taste it first to make sure it's just right.
As her mother becomes increasingly unhinged, Lily starts to have flashbacks that she knows aren’t her own. Over a sweltering London summer, all semblance of civility and propriety is lost, as Lily begins to unravel the harrowing history that has always cast a shadow on her mother. The horrifying secrets she uncovers will shake her family to its core, culminating in a shattering revelation that will finally set Lily free.
Beautiful and shocking, Bad Fruit is as compulsive as it is thought-provoking, as nuanced as it is explosive. A masterful exploration of mothers and daughters, inherited trauma and the race to break its devastating cycle, Bad Fruit will leave readers breathlessly questioning their own notions of femininity, race and redemption.
About the Author
Ella King is a Singaporean novelist living in Greenwich, UK. A graduate of Faber Academy’s novel-writing program, she is an award-winning writer who has worked as a corporate lawyer and for anti-human trafficking and domestic violence charities.
Named one of "The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2022" by CrimeReads
A "Top Spring/Summer Debut" —Library Journal
"In a debut whose drama and suspense are worthy of a thriller, Lily manages her mother’s erratic behavior, often consoling her with a glass of her favorite drink: spoiled juice."
—Biz Hyzy, Booklist Online
“A powerful, hard-hitting and exquisitely written novel."
—Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of Hostage and I Let You Go
"Ella King’s Bad Fruit is a claustrophobic, powder keg of a novel. A portrait of abuse, it hinges on absurdity and suspense to tell a wild story of familial trauma and reckoning that never feels like a 'trauma novel.'"
—Sophia June, NYLON Magazine
"With searing writing, Ella King charts how abuse in a family affects everyone in it. [...] The richness of detail and depth of understanding that King gives each character is quietly masterful."
—Marissa Moss, The New York Journal of Books
"King is unflinching as she examines the hard questions about family. What defines belonging? Looks, care, secrets? How do you understand someone who loves you and hurts you? In Bad Fruit, guilt, hate, and love mingle powerfully."
—Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You and Go Home!
"In her debut novel, King brilliantly portrays generational abuse and trauma passed down from parent to child and a resulting, conscious fight to break free from the toxic cycle. She writes with mastery as she explores the disturbing effects of childhood trauma within a biracial family. Thrilling and suspenseful, King’s exemplary novel will keep readers fascinated until the end."
—Booklist (starred review)
"King delves into toxic family ties and intergenerational trauma in her hypnotic debut ... [A] perfect blend of psychological thriller and coming-of-age. This author is off to a great start."
"Debut author King skillfully brings to light the layered, deeply complex machinations that lurk below the surface in families and confer the fragile impression of normalcy; this family’s crosshairs of obligation, love, and resentment, too, are never oversimplified. May is especially captivating: a veritable tyrant who’s also full of sympathetic, deeply human insecurities. [...] Layered, variable, and, like spoiled orange juice, sometimes complicatedly bitter."
"Disturbing, poignant and memorable all at once- an exploration of a very dark relationship between a daughter and her mother."
—Observer New Review (UK)
"This unforgettable debut follows 17-year-old Lily and her complex relationship with her troubled mother. A riveting novel exploring how family ties can both make us and break us."
"At once an addictive thriller with a mystery at its heart and an erudite reflection on the challenges unique to a multiracial family, this is an ambitious debut from a writer to watch."
—Frances Hedges, Harper's Bazaar (UK)
"A disturbing mother and daughter relationship; a family overflowing with secrets. Bad Fruit is dark, compelling and beautifully written"
—Louise Hare, author of Miss Aldridge Regrets
"Tense, intense and intriguing. Ella King is a genuinely exciting new voice."
—Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat
"Compelling and wicked, Bad Fruit is a novel about the darkest of family secrets and the lies we tell ourselves in order to live with them. This is an intimate, compulsive thriller best read on a hot summer night."
—Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared
"Bad Fruit occupies that liminal space between psychological thriller and horror, beautifully written and incredibly disturbing. In this lushly poisonous tale, we follow a teenage girl on the cusp of freedom from her tyrannical mother. Things take a turn towards the supernatural when she gains access to intergenerational memories and begins to finally understand her family’s strange behavior. Perfect for those who enjoyed Natsuo Kirino’s underrated mishmash of thriller and body horror, Grotesque."
—Molly Odintz, CrimeReads
“Mesmerizing, dream-like and darkly suspenseful, Bad Fruit captures the damaging love and loyalty that children can bear towards abusive parents who are suffering from and passing on their complex trauma.”
—Frances Cha, author of If I Had Your Face
"Bad Fruit is brilliant, taut and explosive. Ella King deftly explores the toxicity of generational trauma while being unafraid to confront the racial tensions that can simmer below the surface. A bold new voice."
—Helena Lee, editor of East Side Voices: Essays Celebrating East & Southeast Asian Identity in Britain
"Ella King opens up the fraught space between mother and daughter to reveal both the unbearable weight of inherited traumas as well as the uncontainable desire of a heart reaching for life. Bad Fruit cuts away the skin of a family as if a daughter could be a knife slicing through lies, pain, and fear. The heart hidden beneath all the secrets is sweet. The heart hidden beneath the secrets is hers. Breathtaking."
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Thrust and The Chronology of Water
"Beautiful, disturbing, impossible to put down. Bad Fruit heralds a seriously impressive new talent in Ella King."
—Chris Whitaker, bestselling author of We Begin At The End
"A compelling debut that fizzes with tension from start to finish, blending the subtle erudition of literary fiction with the drama and suspense of the very best thrillers. Masterful in its evocation of the complexity of mother-daughter relationships, this is a darkly fascinating, tightly plotted narrative from a writer to watch."
—Harper’s Bazaar (UK)
"Bad Fruit is at once a beautiful and harrowing novel which explores family dynamics, and tracks a journey of self-discovery. I am blown away by Ella's talent for writing not only wonderful prose but complex and intriguing characters."
—L.V. Matthews, author of The Prank
"Bad Fruit is a beautiful collision of mothers and daughters, human darkness and human kindness, truth and lies, remembering and forgetting, trauma and healing."
—Sarah May, author of Becky