One of Lit Hub’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2023From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny comes a horror-tinted, gothic fairy tale about a lonely dress shop clerk whose mother's unexpected death sends her down a treacherous path in pursuit of youth and beauty. 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 Méduse, 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.

Don't just take our word for it...

“With Rouge you get everything a Mona Awad novel promises, and more. Sparkling dialogue, unforgettable narrative voice, twisted humour and irony injected with flawless results. This is a wild ride of a book. . . . Fast-paced [and] magical.”
– Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Relate

“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

Taste the very first page

She used to tell you fairy tales at night, remember? Once upon a time. When you were a sad, dreamy little girl. Each night you lay in your princess bed, surrounded by your glassy-eyed dolls, waiting for her like a wish. Tick, tick went the second on your Snow White clock. The moon rose whitely from the black clouds. And then . . . 

“Knock, knock,” Mother whispered from your bedroom door.

“Come in,” you called in your child’s voice.

And she did. She came and sat right on the edge of your bed like a queen, didn’t she? Cigarette between her white fingers. Exuding her scent of violets and smoke.

“All right,” Mother said. “Which story do you want to hear tonight, Belle?”

Belle. French for “beautiful.” It’s what she called you, even though you were a beastly little thing. Not at all like Mother. She was fair, slim, and smooth, remember? Like something out of a fairy tale. Like something out of a fairy tale. Like the dolls that lined the walls of your room. It was Mother who’d bought you those dolls. Positioned them in every corner, every nook, so no matter where you looked, you saw their glossy hair, their fair skin, those lips of red that were always sort of smiling at you. Like they all had a secret between them.

“Well, Belle?” And she smiled at you just like the dolls, remember?

She was wearing the red silk robe, the one you loved best. Sometimes you tried it on when she wasn’t home, breathing in her violets and smoke. She had a pair of red shoes that matched. Satin, heeled, with puffs of red feathers on the toes – your favorites. You tried those on too, but it never went well. Two teetering steps and you were on the floor, weren’t you?