‘Ella Baxter’s debut novel is drenched in sex and death . . . there’s also much love . . . An intense, viscerally affecting book, with the quotient of tenderness to violence in an equal scale.’ Sydney Morning Herald
Amelia is no stranger to sex and death. Her job in her family’s funeral parlour, doing make-up on the dead, might be unusual, but she’s good at it. Life and warmth comes from the men she meets online – combining with someone else’s body at night in order to become something else, at least for a while.
But when a sudden loss severs her ties with someone she loves, Amelia sets off on a seventy-two-hour mission to outrun her grief – skipping out on the funeral, running away to stay with her father in Tasmania and experimenting on the local BDSM scene. There she learns more about sex, death, grief, and the different ways pain works its way through the body.
It takes two fathers, a bruising encounter with a stranger and recognition of her own body’s limits to bring Amelia back to herself.
Deadpan, wise and heartbreakingly funny, Ella Baxter’s New Animal is a stunning debut.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 23 members
Wow. Not even sure where to begin with this one. A perfect, honest and hard hitting account of grief, losing a mother and how its (not) handled. This weirdly has the perfect mix of grief and sex which stunned me but it absolutely worked. Some shocking scenes- not for the faint hearted. Raw, unique, clever. And its a debut. OHMYGOODNESS.
Genius - funny, but also angry and righteous, this felt like a really new voice. I loved the pace, the writing, and the pages zipped by before I had realised it.
“I decide, while fully penetrated, to consent, because you can always throw your body on the fire to keep others warm. I was already filled with petrol; he’s just a man-shaped match.” Amelia uses sex to escape from her own mind and, presumably, also her day job as a mortician. But, when she loses a member of her own family, she seeks distraction in more extreme places. It makes for fascinating reading. I got major Australian Fleabag vibes from this book (and I mean that as a huge compliment). It caught me very off guard with how beautiful and deep the writing is, while Amelia is also incredibly relatable, awkward and charming. It’s such an addictive and likeable mixture. It’s the kind of book I find inspiring. It’s short, it’s deep, it’s moving. I absolutely blasted through it, and yet it made me cry with both laughter and sorrow in that short space of time. There are very strange scenes of kink experimentation, characters you hope to never come across in your own life (pun not intended), and paragraphs so deeply existential that you have to stare into space for a little while after reading them. Memorable for all the right reasons. Favourite quote: “The deceased are beyond beautiful, but only because they are so empty of worry. Everything tense or unlikeable is gone. Like a shipping centre in the middle of the night, they have lost all the chaos and clatter.” New Animal will be released on 17th February 2022, thank you NetGalley for the arc.
A strikingly original debut from Ella Baxter that centres on Amelia, a young woman who works in her stepfather’s funeral home and uses one night stands in an attempt to cure her struggling mental health. A shocking loss then sees Amelia experiment with BDSM as a way to block out her spiralling thoughts. Despite the often morbid themes, this is a very funny book and Baxter is (to use a painfully overused term) ‘one to watch’. I have read a lot of novels that focus on ‘unlikeable’, messy female protagonists who have unhealthy attitudes to sex but New Animal was original enough to stand out. I’d be interested in reading a follow up (surely the burgeoning Vlad subplot is ripe for a sequel?!).
a really raw, intense, visceral read. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The contrast of the warmth and love from her family, and the coldness in her relationships was great.
In Ellie Baxter's debut novel New Animal Ameila is a cadaver make up artist in the family funeral parlour in Australia . Amelia loves her job but spends too much of her spare time having fairly soulless sexual encounters with random men she finds online. When a loved one dies Amelia is distraught,cannot handle the thought of the funeral and flees to Tasmania to stay with her estranged Dad .Unable to curb her online hook up habit Amelia finds herself involved in the local BDSM scene where she hopes to find some answers about herself. This is a quirky book, the characters and dialogue reminded me very much of Mike Leigh's movies with slightly strange people and bizarre situations that combined for serious belly laughs. It's not a book for the squeamish, I'm not particularly but cringed at a couple of Amelia's escapades . Ella Baxter is a real talent,from a fairly pedestrian beginning, not much happens at all for a few pages the book then seemed to be accelerating into an attempt to shock the reader as much as possible..then there's a truly amazing ending that is almost sheer poetry . I think this book will sharply divide opinion, it's definitely odd and some will hate it given the nature of some of the scenes, which are very near the knuckle in a number of ways. Others will think it's a work of genius. I wouldn't go quite that far but it is a very impressive piece of work , To switch from some of the quite brutal and gross scenes before it to something as beautiful and moving as the ending and make it work is quite an achievement.
Ella Baxter’s New Animal is a shockingly powerful debut novel. It is a raw and unflinching look at what it is to grieve. It is bold and it is shocking. You can feel the grief of Baxter’s protagonist Amelia positively oozing off of the pages, it is that palpable. This is not a book for the faint hearted, the grief is raw and it is tied up with a young woman’s abuse of her own body as she seeks escape through the extremes of sex. But it is also a novel that is so intrinsically about love, after all to feel the depth of grief that Amelia is feeling you must have first felt deep love. New Animal centres on Amelia who works at her families mortuary where she is the make up artist to the deceased. At the offset Amelia seeks to find solace, and escape through casual sex with people she meets online. She is searching for oblivion in the pursuit if becoming a ‘new animal’. But soon Amelia is faced with a devastating loss that sends her absolutely spiralling and unable to cope. She struggles to cope with the discord between her mind and body, seeking to annihilate both. The way Baxter describes Amelia’s work and reverence towards her clients is simply beautiful. Without giving anything away, the way she dealt with her final client, and the realisations it led her to had me in floods of tears. Early on Amelia explains the beauty of working with the deceased and that they ‘are so beautiful but only because they are so emptied of worry’. Such deep and profound insights and musings are found throughout New Animal and really go to showcase what an exceptional piece of writing this is. This is a book that may make you feel uncomfortable and may be triggering for some, but given it’s content I don’t think it could be any other way. It’s certainly a very striking debut that will make you feel as well as think.