Review: They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

“He wasn’t afraid of me…That was his first mistake.”

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Gallery/Scout Press | 2020

Filed Under: A stress ball shaped like balls.

You’ll have to excuse me – I’m coming off of a conversation today where I learned some very disturbing things about two friends of a friend who are both going through new separations from their husbands. When I tell you both of these ladies are being emotionally abused and mistreated by pieces of TRASH – ugh. So anyway, my feminist rage is absolutely chaotic at the moment and that might come out in this review.

Why? Because this novel is a dark, feminist revenge fantasy and it was amazing.

It’s Dexter meets Hard Candy meets Thelma and Louise.

I fucking loved it. Let’s drive over the cliff, baby! But let’s kill some fucking sexist bastards before we go!

If that sounds like your kind of thing, please read this novel. It’s deeply satisfying.

“Killing a man is so much more satisfying than fucking a man could ever be.”

Scarlett Clarke is an English professor at Gorman University by day, and by night she’s a serial killer. So fun. We all need hobbies. Much like Dexter, Scarlett only targets those that she believes deserve to be murdered – however much someone can deserve to be murdered is an abstract moral question that we just do not have time to get into around here. I have things to do.

Those that deserve it, in Scarlett’s twisted beautiful mind, are dirtbag men guilty of crimes against women who have never seen an ounce of justice. She’s been doing vengeance killing for years, but has so far managed to avoid detection thanks to her meticulous planning and MO – murders that appear to be suicides.

Everything is going swimmingly for dear Scarlett until she gets too personal – in more ways than one – and shit goes sideways with her latest target.

Some other things are going on, like a creepy colleague and a student of Scarlett’s who is assaulted at a party. There are flashback scenes that may or may not have something to do with why Scarlett is the way she is, and some perfectly written and placed romantic moments. It’s all just…

Chefs Kiss GIF by Brittany Broski

At the same time, if you’re a woman then you’ve most likely experienced at least one of the examples of misogynistic bullshit included in the plot and it will be rage-inducing watching it happen again and again to the characters. The subtle digs to your qualifications in a professional setting, the possessive fuck-buddy and the sexual passes that are “no big deal, why are you being such a bitch about it?”

So, just prepare for that emotionally, however you do that. Smoke some weed. Punch a pillow. Use a stress ball in the shape of actual balls. Those exist, thanks.

The Never Learn is one of my favourite books of the year so far. Yep! I said it! Finally something I really loved! You must be so relieved.

This novel is intense and dark and fun and wild and visceral to its fucking core. Scarlett is an easy villain to root for, and it’s not even totally clear she is a villain. Like, maybe a little evil but is it really so bad to kill a rapist? I’m not convinced.

Look, I’m not saying people should be murdered for those kinds of crimes, but I’m also not saying that I’m mad at Scarlett for her choice of hobby. You do you, girl. Kill that guy who drugged someone’s drink and then forced himself on her. I’m not upset about it.

This was a balls-to-the-walls feminist revenge thriller and I’ll definitely be reading more by Layne Fargo in the future.


Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.

Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.

Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay…and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.

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