One of Granta's Best Young British Novelists 2023
"Eliza Clark's writing embraces the socially unacceptable and wryly explores themes of gender, power, and violence."--Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2023
"Chilling, clever, and unputdownable."--Guardian
From the author of the cult hit Boy Parts comes a chilling, brilliantly told story of murder among a group of teenage girls--a powerful and disturbing novel as piercing in its portrait of young women as Emma Cline's The Girls.
On a beach in a run-down seaside town on the Yorkshire coastline, sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson is set on fire by three other schoolgirls.
Nearly a decade after the horrifying murder, journalist Alec Z. Carelli has written the definitive account of the crime, drawn from hours of interviews with witnesses and family members, painstaking historical research, and most notably, correspondence with the killers themselves. The result is a riveting snapshot of lives rocked by tragedy, and a town left in turmoil.
But how much of the story is true?
Compulsively readable, provocative, and disturbing, Penance is a cleverly nuanced, unflinching exploration of gender, class, and power that raises troubling questions about the media and our obsession with true crime while bringing to light the depraved side of human nature and our darkest proclivities.