​Review: Black Iris by Elliot Wake (writing as Leah Raeder)

Goodreads Synopsis:

The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She’s going to show them all.

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 1:

In the deepest throes of depression, when sunlight is anguish and the sky throbs like one big raw migraine and you just want to sleep until you or everything else dies, you’re less likely to commit suicide than someone coming out of a depressive episode. Drug companies know this. That’s why antidepressants have to be marked with the warning MAY CAUSE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.

Because what brings you back to life also gives you the means to destroy yourself.

My Review:

I’ll go ahead and say upfront, this book needs a Trigger Warning for graphic violence.

The world of Chicago and the surrounding area is given just enough details in the story to make me feel like I’m there, though I never have been. The world building is done in such a fluid way that it doesn’t interrupt or take away from the story, but rather builds alongside it and adds to it nicely.

The characters are developed and redeveloped, changing constantly based on plot points that come out and explode at specific times, much like a New Year’s fireworks show. Getting to know them again and again at each drastic new change is beautiful, if a little nerve wracking.

There was a conversation at one point where Laney and her mother are talking where the mother explains the reason she hates medicine is because it makes her feel dead inside. I related to this statement on such a deep level that I had to put the book down for a little while and process before coming back to it. I also saw a lot of myself in Blythe for most of the story: the bipolar swings and impulsiveness that are so much of who she is. I believed diverse representation in books was important before reading this, but now I feel that belief to my very core because I’ve never before been quite so well represented as I am in Black Iris.

The story was quite a bit darker than I was expecting and there were so many plot twists I was constantly on my toes. I couldn’t put it down because I was constantly wondering what would happen next. Black Iris is a beautifully disturbing must-read. I can not wait to read more from Elliot Wake.

Overall, I rate Black Iris 4 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of Black Iris and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Elliot Wake and his work, visit his website.

I read this book as a part of the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon. I chose this as my Expecto Patronum because it has a main character who is bisexual and has bipolar disorder. These both have a great personal significance to me.


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