Book Review: The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Posted December 15, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger, Uncategorized / 31 Comments

The Ingenue
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Publication Date December 6, 2022
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Coming of Age, Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense, Fiction / Women
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

Named a Best New Book of December by Buzzfeed · New York Post · PopSugar · PureWow · E! Online · Amazon

"Exceptional. This surprising, exhilarating suspense-filled tale of revenge and redemption is hard to put down." ––Publishers Weekly (starred review)

My Dark Vanessa meets The Queen's Gambit in this new novel of suspense about the bonds of family, the limits of talent, the risks of ambition, and the rewards of revenge.

When former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis returns home to Milwaukee after her mother's unexpected death, she expects to inherit the family estate, the Elf House. But with the discovery that her mother's will bequeathed the Elf House to a man that Saskia shares a complicated history with, she is forced to reexamine her own past––and the romantic relationship that changed the course of her life––for answers. Can she find a way to claim her heritage while keeping her secrets buried, or will the fallout from digging too deep destroy her?

Set against a post #MeToo landscape, Rachel Kapelke-Dale's The Ingenue delves into mother-daughter relationships, the expectations of talent, the stories we tell ourselves, and what happens when the things that once made you special are taken from you. Moving between Saskia's childhood and the present day, this dark, contemporary fairy tale pulses with desire, longing, and uncertainty, as it builds to its spectacular, shocking climax.

The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale is an exciting thriller about a young woman who returns home to find out her inheritance was left to her ex-lover.  

Story Recap: 

When Saskia Kreis returns to her childhood home for her mother’s funeral, she doesn’t expect to find out that her inheritance, the Elf House, was left to an ex-boyfriend, Patrick.  The historic Elf House has been handed down from generation to generation and Saskia has grown up knowing the house would be hers one day.  

Saskia and her father can’t believe her mother would not leave the home to Saskia.  Even her father can’t understand her mother’s thinking, and even if she didn’t want to leave it to Saskia, they are both perplexed why she would leave the home to Patrick.  With so many unanswered questions, Saskia is determined to find some answers. 

My Thoughts: 

I loved this fast-paced story and I could not put this book down until I found out why Saskia’s mother left the house to Patrick.  

I like the way the author organized the chapters.  It starts with a quick snippet from her mother’s feminist fairy tales and I thought this gave us a look into Saskia’s mother and how she thought.  Next was a few paragraphs that took place in Saskia’s past and highlights how she became a pianist and how her parents supported her talent.  I thought this gave us more suspense as Saskia’s past has clues to her mother’s motivation and we learn why Saskia abandoned her promising career.  Next came the present-day section that details Saskia’s search to find the truth behind her mother’s bequest.  

As I read, the suspense got more and more intense, and the ending was one I had to read twice as I couldn’t believe what happened, and it was a very satisfying end.  


I highly recommend The Ingenue to anyone who loves suspenseful fiction.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Rachel Kapelke-Dale

RACHEL KAPELKE-DALE is the author of The Ballerinas (St. Martin's Press 2021) and coauthor of Graduates in

Wonderland (Penguin 2014), a memoir about the significance and nuances of female friendships. The author of Vanity Fair

Hollywood’s column “Advice from the Stars,” Kapelke-Dale spent years in intensive ballet training before receiving a BA

from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and a PhD from University College London. She currently lives in Paris.

Have you read The Ingenue? Or her previous book, The Ballerinas?

31 responses to “Book Review: The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

  1. I was invited to read this one and wasn’t sure, I guess I made the wrong decision. Wonderful review, Wendy. I really like the sound of this and with an author and pianist, it sounds beautiful. Off to see if my library has this one.

  2. That sounds like a good puzzle. I wish I had requested it. Because I had not gotten to Ballerinas yet, I hesitated to do it. I’m glad it was a good read for you!

  3. I like suspense, but I’m not sure about this one. I am intrigued by her other book Ballerinas. Did you like that one?

  4. I’ve been on the fence about reading this one. I didn’t really care for The Ballerinas and forced myself to finish reading it and I wasn’t sure about this one although your review made me want to pick it up! Great review and lovely blog!

    Simply Angela

  5. Janette

    I don’t like my fiction to be too suspenseful but this one sounds too good to pass up on. Thanks for the review.

  6. What an intriguing synopsis and review! I’ve been seeing this book everywhere so thanks for sharing your great review of it Wendy.