REVIEW: Size Zero by Abigail Mangin is a trip!

The Official Description: Condom dresses and space helmets have debuted on fashion runways.

A dead body becomes the trend when a coat made of human skin saunters down fashion’s biggest stage. The body is identified as Annabelle Leigh, the teenager who famously disappeared over a decade ago from her boyfriend’s New York City mansion.

This new evidence casts suspicion back on the former boyfriend, Cecil LeClaire. Now a monk, he is forced to return to his dark and absurd childhood home to clear his name. He teams up with Ava Germaine, a renegade ex-model. And together, they investigate the depraved and lawless modeling industry behind Cecil’s family fortune.

They find erotic canes, pet rats living in crystal castles, and dresses made of crushed butterfly wings. But Cecil finds more truth in the luxury goods than in the people themselves. Everyone he meets seems to be wearing a person-suit. Terrified of showing their true selves, the glitterati put on flamboyant public personas to make money and friends. Can Cecil find truth in a world built on lies?

In high fashion modeling, selling bodies is organized crime.

Just the facts: bizarre, macabre.. mystery and satire on the fashion world.

This book is a trip! It’s like entering into a bizarre escape room of macabre descriptions, extreme creativity and depravity of human kind. In all of that… there’s a mystery.  – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: This is one of the most difficult books I have ever had to review. That’s not because I don’t think it’s really well written… it’s because it almost seems to defy description. Usually, what I do with a review is attempt to write a review that will summarize a plot without giving spoilers. I want to give people enough clues that they may be able to decide whether this book might be something they would enjoy reading.

Let me start with the beginning of this book. Someone has managed to send a drugged model staggering out onto a high fashion runway wearing a creation made from a human body… and the description is breathtaking in the most unpleasant way. Mangin has a marvelous way of describing the most visceral scenes. There’s great attention to visual detail in the book… and it really helps to immerse the reader in the world.

The short version is that When Brother George AKA Cecil was young.. his girlfriend disappeared. suspicion landed firmly on Cecil’s shoulders. Eventually, Cecil ended up in a monastery and that’s where he is when a murder is committed. The body that was used to make the suit on the model is no other than that of his girlfriend.

Cecil is sent from the monastery to “put closure” on all the loose ends that seem to torment him. How he’s supposed to do that is a great mystery but he begins with returning “home.” This is the point at which things in the novel begin to get extremely bizarre.

The fashion world in this book is like some sort of twisted and mutated caricature of the fashion world we have today. It’s futuristic and archaic, young girls – little more than children re basically kept captive. They barely eat, they are treated as a bizarre collection of dolls rather than human beings. I felt as though I was reading a demented version of Alice in Wonderland as I was plunged into a macabre, futuristic, extreme, disgusting fashion world.

There were times when things in this book were so absurd that they were almost funny, but the darkness takes away that hint of humor. So you see… this is why I’m struggling to write a review. None of the relationships in the book are healthy… Cecil is probably the sanest but even he has emotionally flat reactions to the depravity that he returns to.

Is this book hard to read? At times it was. Is it worth reading? Abso-freaking-lutely! It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that made amused me in such a twisted way! And it’s completely original. I can safely say that I’ve never read anything like it before. In fact, the only thing I can come up with that might begin to give you a hint of what this is like is that it reminded me of books from the “bizarro” genre… although not quite as removed from reality.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Vivid descriptions of costume made of human flesh, blood, murder, misogyny, eating disorders, presentation of women as objects, descriptions of an extremely dysfunctional family… there are a lot of things in this book that could be considered a trigger for someone. Please take care when reading!

Links: Goodreads // The Author //

I received an ARC of Size Zero by Abigail mangin from Visage Media LLC via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.


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