Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

When I first started reading this, I didn’t think it was going to be one for me. Mentally, I’ve been run down recently following deadlines with my own writing projects and life in general, I was ready for an easy read, and at first this did not seem at all like it was going to fit the bill! But I persisted, and page by page I was lured further and further in, until we got to today, where I started halfway through the book and I have, quite literally, been unable to put it down. I’ve shut myself away from my husband for the past couple of hours just so I could finish it and finally get to know how it ended!

In short… was absolutely for me and has re-energised my previously exhausted reading brain!

The novel takes place over a period of sixteen years, and is set over an international stage, recounting the love story of Ian and Maddie and how they got to be married, with a son (Charlie) and living the perfect suburban life in Kansas. There are several narratives woven throughout the course of the novel. There are the third person chapters focusing on ‘The Day of the Killing’ through the eyes of Diane Varga, the police officer who is first on the scene. Then there are the chapters where the narrative is told in the first person, predominantly by Maddie, but also by Ian and it builds up a sense of their relationship through their eyes. These begin at their first meeting and pull the reader through their love story over the years. Then there are Maddie’s first person narratives in the weeks and days leading up to that fateful day. I have to say, I had to really focus whilst I was reading especially as there is a huge amount of information being imparted, but I think that the threads are beautifully and skilfully woven and I felt that the ending was definitely worth the effort of keeping everything straight in my mind!

I love to guess the ending of these types of novels. Did I guess……not really, no. I wasn’t surprised by it, but it was even darker and more twisted than I initially thought, whilst the bitter end of the book left me feeling very tense and uneasy!

Beautiful Bad is a fantastic read, full of intrigue – I was absolutely hooked! If you’re a fan of love stories with a hugely dark psychological twist – I think that this is one you’re going to love!


Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns are for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime. But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

About the Author

Annie Ward has a BA in English Literature from UCLA and a MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first short screenplay, Strange Habit, starring Adam Scott was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award winner at the Aspen Film Festival. She has received a Fulbright Scholarship and An Escape to Create Artists residency. She lives in Kansas with her family.

*I received a copy of Beautiful Bad from the publisher Quercus. I was under no pressure to read, and my review forms my honest opinion.

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