By Ekta R. Garg
October 3, 2018
Release date: September 11, 2018
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A woman obsessed with her coworker must compete with her for a promotion. She’ll stop at nothing to reach that higher level, even if that means resorting to murder. Author Amina Akhtar shocks readers and invites them into her bizarre world that hits all the right story elements in her debut novel #FashionVictim.
Anya St. Clair works at La Vie, one of the hottest fashion magazines in New York City. She gets to see the latest trends before the world does and hang out with clothes and accessories designers. For most women with an abiding interest in fashion, this would be a dream job and for Anya it is. Especially since she works alongside Sarah Taft, her fashion icon.
All Anya wants is to be Sarah’s BFF. Besties. The person Sarah turns to in crisis and the first name on Sarah’s list for nights out. Sarah, however, doesn’t seem to get it, no matter how much Anya ingratiates herself to her. It’s almost as if Sarah doesn’t like her or something.
When both of them get tapped to compete for a promotion at work, then, it’s simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing Anya has done. She would do anything for Sarah, and working for her—getting to spend infinite amounts of time with her—would make Anya’s life complete. But Anya isn’t totally blind; she sees how Sarah belittles her. Maybe, she decides, Sarah needs to learn a lesson.
As Anya works out how to make Sarah realize they should be intrinsic parts of one another lives, a variety of other people just keep getting in the way of their friendship. There’s Cassie, the intern; Lisa, Sarah’s current bestie; Diana, the frequent commenter on La Vie’s website who can’t keep her insults of Anya’s articles to herself; even Zhazha, the exotic Russian blogger who Anya brings on board as a contributor.
All of these people and more keep annoying Anya, and she keeps having to take care of them. Murder is hard work but only second to the diet that editor-in-chief Celia insists on for Anya. All in all, none of it seems to be impressing Sarah much, and Anya starts to wonder what other measures she might need to take in order to make Sarah—and the rest of the fashion world—notice her once and for all.
Debut author Amina Akhtar relies, no doubt, on her own training in writing about fashion to build the story world for her first novel. The result is a strange version of a magazine workplace, but that version actually works. With a little bit of patience, readers who are open to a creepy version of The Devil Wears Prada will encounter a joyride that will leave them grinning at the end of the book.
Anya doesn’t try to hide the fact that she’s a psychopath, and Akhtar has capture Anya’s voice with perfection. The sarcasm, the snark, the astute observations of the fashion world, all these traits and more will make readers want to know just what Anya will do next. After a certain point in the book, it becomes easy to believe that Anya truly is capable of absolutely anything. For a change, it’s fun to get deep inside the point of view of this kind of unhinged character.
Readers looking for some moral resolution or a finger-shaking at Anya will be sorely disappointed. Instead, the story should be approached as a brief interlude in the life of someone who is flat-out nuts. It’s never clear whether Anya knows just how far off the deep end she’s dropped, and at some point readers may not even care. Akhtar shares hints of Anya’s past, and while it might have been nice to have had a little more context for Anya’s background at some point the body count gets so high readers will find themselves just trying to keep track of it and nothing else.
For those readers looking for a rollicking ride that doesn’t require thinking about what came before or what happens after the story, I recommend they Bookmark #FashionVictim.