First things first: I plead with whomever has the power to do so to change the title of this book!
Seriously, you take a quick glance at it and what leaps out is "Butt" and "Hairy" - so much so that while I waited for this request to be approved (thank you for the book, by the way!) I kept thinking about this book as the "Hairy Butt".
Anais Butt (ugh, she seriously needs a new last name), is amazing. She's 17 and she's been expelled from various schools a total of 5 times.
Let me tell you a little more about Anais: she makes the whole book shine, she makes the reader keep reading. This book is told in 1st person narrative, so we fortunately get to read all the gloriously mean thoughts Anais has. Because Anais is not a nice girl. She's petty, irresponsible, whiny, self-centered, a snitch, and she takes great joy in certain misfortunes that befall others. And I absolutely LOVE her. And she's so impossibly funny and unapologetic, and practical in conducting her mischief that I was glued to the pages waiting for what she'd do or say next.
After being expelled for poisoning her school's rose garden, Anais goes to stay with her Nanny Bette, who has spread her paintings of a nude male model all over the flat. Here's the thing, the model, Shannon, is living in the spare room and Nanny Bette has decided to leave him all her earthly possessions in case she kicks the bucket.
Obviously, Anais is suspicious of the whole thing, and with good reason! Especially when she peeks at Shannon sleeping in Nanny Bette's spare room and sees he's very hairy indeed. But... weird hairy. Like a dog, hairy...
Plus there have been these disappearances and murders happening while Shannon is hiding away at her Nan's.
But enter her parents, who've decided they've had enough of her behaviour and are shipping her off to Nanny Pam's riding school. Nanny Pam, who, in Anais' mother's own words, is "a psychopath" who "destroyed [her] self-esteem." I love Nanny Pam's description, so I have to share it:
"I remembered Nanny Pam very clearly. She looked like an exhumed corpse with a fluffy grey wig and a roll-your-own cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth. If you were lucky, she put her teeth in."
After this dreadful turn of events, Anais goes to the park so she can cry in miserable solitude, hoping she'll catch pneumonia.
Then Shannon appears out of nowhere and suddenly they're both in trouble. As Anais herself says, "What a difference a rake makes!" and while she is attracted to him, she's perfectly aware she shouldn't be:
"Crikey, I thought, I’m buoying my spirits with dreams about a serial killer. I only hoped he would track me down so that I could propose his next two victims."
The characters, every single one of them, are completely believable, developed and crazy-horrid in the best way possibly.
The plot is incredibly entertaining, and the pacing is perfect.
The only parts I didn't care for were the weird romance bits. I really dislike insta-love, (plus the age difference was creepy) and the story suffered because of it.
But anyway, this story is a sort of modern day retelling of Red Riding Hood (my favourite fairytale!!) with absolutely EVERYTHING to be a huge success!
...Except the title. Seriously, you need to change that title.
Also, this must be the first in a series, I hope? Because it can't end there!
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Anais Butt and the Hairy-Handed Gent