Title: New Animal

Author: Ella Baxter

Published: March 2021

Genres: Contemporary fiction, BDSM




It's not easy getting close to people. Amelia's meeting a lot of men but once she gets the sex she wants from them, that's it for her; she can't connect further. A terrible thing happened to Daniel last year and it's stuck inside Amelia ever since, making her stuck too.

Maybe being a cosmetician at her family's mortuary business isn't the best job for a young woman. It's not helping her social life. She loves her job, but she's not great at much else. Especially emotion.

And then something happens to her mum and suddenly Amelia's got too many feelings and the only thing that makes any sense to her is running away.

It takes the intervention of her two fathers and some hilariously wrong encounters with other broken people in a struggling Tasmanian BDSM club to help her accept the truth she has been hiding from. And in a final, cataclysmic scene, we learn along with Amelia that you need to feel another person's weight before you can feel your own.

Deadpan, wise and heartbreakingly funny, New Animal is a stunning debut.



There is no denying that the protagonist was unlikable, the depictions of sex were cold and unpalatable, and the ending felt unfinished. I was put off from the beginning. I found much of the writing to be detached and blunt, and any rare pockets of prose felt overly engineered (with only a couple of exceptions). There were relationships with certain characters and reflections on that past that had the potential to construct moments of clarity, something deeper or more profound, but instead were abandoned. It’s the type of book that is so richly nuanced it forces the reader to look beyond the hostility and candor, something I just couldn’t find within me to do. It’s only redeeming quality for me was spotlighting the relationship between one’s soul and one’s body, which I thought Baxter explored brilliantly.


NICKY'S REVIEW  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one attracted me out of curiosity, as well as a want to know where I stood on it after seeing Tay’s rating. The protagonist Amelia is a cosmetician at her family’s mortuary business and has, as outsiders would deem, a bizarre relationship with death and grief. But she wears it with this sense of likeness, and in conjunction with her vicious cycle of online dating and surface level relationships, she was one of the most intriguing yet strangely honest characters I have read of yet! Sure, the BDSM content was slightly obscene, but it had me fascinated. The writing was solid, as it was burning with sadness and rage yet was able to provide some relief with humour and light hearted, realistic internal monologue. I consumed it quickly, and have continued to ponder over it since I finished. An exceptional debut! #teamnicky


Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending us an advanced review copy of this book.

You can find more information about the book and purchase a copy here.

RRP: $29.99



"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."



Suicide, death of a child, BDSM, rape, major themes of death & grief.



About Ella Baxter

Sydney Morning Herald artcile
When sudden loss tips you off the straight, narrow and boring

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