Can she escape her mother’s fate and find a connection that is more than skin deep?
For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos.
When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother’s considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death.
The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalizing clue about her mother’s demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience.
With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Meduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted.
There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother’s) obsession with the mirror-and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass.
Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy, grief, and the complicated love between mothers and daughters.
With black humor and seductive horror, Rouge explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry-as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze.
Brimming with California sunshine and blood-red rose petals, Rouge holds up a warped mirror to our relationship with mortality, our collective fixation with the surface, and the wondrous, deep longing that might lie beneath.
‘You think, ‘She’s not going to go there…yes, she is’’ – Margaret Atwood
‘The trancelike, rhapsodic language and deepening atmosphere of unreality make for a narrative that oozes with unease’ – The Guardian
‘Rouge is a must-read for anyone who has found themselves obsessively, and even dangerously, fixated on self-improvement. […] Dreamline, hypnotic and enchanting in its language, Rouge proves Awad is a huge talent’ – Stylist
‘A tale of insidious damage of envy and our preoccupation with appearances. Anyone maintaining a ten-step Korean skincare regimen may feel seen. […] Awad ramps up the grand guignol hysteria rather splendidly, chucking in some film noir tropes for good measure as we hurtle towards a demonic denouement’ – The Times
‘Rouge is a story in which dreams become nightmares and vice versa. Desire and danger walk hand-in-hand and Awad skilfully manipulates the vertiginous tension between them. The beauty industry is ripe for Awad’s signature treatment: gothic satire, bloody but beautifully done. Much of it is darkly hilarious. […] If you like your fairy tales dark and for adults only, then stick along for the wild ride’ – Daily Telegraph
‘An edgy fable on the perils of our modern fascination with beauty’ – Vogue
‘Awad is a genius, preternaturally gifted at creating vicious, hilarious tales about the depravity inside us’ – Vulture
‘A brilliant, biting critique of western beauty standards as well as a soaring, phantasmagoric, Angela Carter-esque fairy tale about trauma and the loss of self. Rouge is deeply unsettling, funny, obsessive, and unlike anything I’ve read. A truly mesmerizing read’ – Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World
‘Rouge is a fever dream-a brilliant, intense, unforgettable horror story about a beauty cult with a deeply moving mother-daughter story at its core. Mona Awad’s signature and singular imagination and black humor and empathy are on full display here, and her wild-ride of a tale is masterfully grounded in the emotional devastation of childhood and grief. I loved every word of this’ – Laura Zigman, author of Small World
‘There is nobody else like Mona Awad, daring enough to plunge her hands-rings and all-into the viscera of story and discover an unsettling beauty within. Rouge is her most magnetic work yet, a thrilling dystopian romp that knows that beneath the glossy, aspirational veneer of self-care lurks the same old gothic abyss’ – Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
‘Unsettling, whimsical, and moving, Rouge is an authentic, innovative kind of narrative magic that’s both surreal and absolute. A striking novel of incandescence and heart’ – Iain Reid, author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things