Crushed; a modern Shakespearean tragedy

Dramatic, dark and unnervingly brilliant is my description of Crushed, the new novel by award winning author Kate Hamer. Days after finishing it, I can’t stop thinking about this compelling, intense read.

Crushed is the story of three friends – beautiful and narcissistic seventeen year-old Phoebe who ‘thought murder, and murder happened;’ overweight Orla, battling with her sexuality has a crush on Phoebe to the point of obsession; and Grace, at sixteen, the youngest of the three yet ‘always seems by far the oldest – as if she’s twice our age and she’s been married and had three kids already ‘ – a full time carer to her mother.

All three characters are crushed; Phoebe by her mother, also a narcissist who cruelly spies and controls her daughter. In retaliation Phoebe turns ‘the knives and scissors in the house so they point towards the living room‘ where her mother is. Orla is crushed by her obsessional love for Phoebe and Grace by her responsibility to care for her mum who has multiple sclerosis. For me, Grace was my favourite character who is a survivor but at a cost; overwhelmed with the pressure of being her mother’s sole carer, she is consumed with guilt and self loathing.


Phoebe is fascinated by the witches in Macbeth as they study the Shakespearean tragedy at school. Her unhealthy fascination with the witches is enhanced as she embarks on a sleazy affair with her English teacher. Phoebe believes that she and her friends are also witches and just as powerful as the Shakespearean witches.

Just as in the Shakespearean play, that power is dangerous.

The theme of the Shakespearean tragedy running through the novel is brilliant, dramatically intensifying the toxic family dynamics, the coming of the age and the tragedy of the friendship. Crushed is a slow burner just as powerful as the Shakespearean tragedy – if not more so.

As the toxicity of Phoebe’s home life seeps into her friendship with Grace and Orla, the teenage angst and manipulation within the friendship group intensifies dramatically leading to a blood curdling conclusion.


Crushed was published on 2nd May 2019. If you want a unique, dramatic psychological thriller, I urge you to read this.

Thank you Sophie Portas from Faber & Faber for my advance copy and inviting me to take part in the blog tour to help publicise Crushed. If you wish to read reviews from my fellow book bloggers, please see above.

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