Karine Giebel

(Belfond, 744 pages, 2018)


To rebel is to live. But it is also to suffer. It is above all to suffer. So, that night, between two chattering teeth, between two moans, between two floods of tears, I promise. Never again will I revolt. In the middle of my horrifying delirium, I vow to bend my back, forever.

They All Wound, The Last One Kills

They call her Tama, but that’s not her real name. She does not have the right to utter her real name. And yet every evening before she goes to sleep, she murmurs it to herself several times so that she never forgets.

At the age of nine, Tama lives near Paris in a large and attractive house, but it is not her own. She does the housework, cooking, and looks after the children. Not entitled to a bedroom, the little girl sleeps in a cupboard next to the washing machine. She washes herself in the sink before the family wakes up, given only one towel and one change of clothes. Tama is not like the average child; she is a slave. The slave of the Charandon family, whose members continually bully, beat, and degrade her. It makes no difference that Tama is docile, intelligent, and kind—she is theirs. She has no identity papers, no name, no future. She is nothing.

By the age of fifteen, Tama has lived a thousand lives. Denied the education every child deserves, she has taught herself how to read. Now she lives with Mrs. Charandon’s cousin, Mejda, as her teenage body becomes an embarrassing temptation to Mr. Charandon. Her new nemesis mentally and physically tortures her. Fortunately Izri, Mejda’s enigmatic son, is protective and kind toward Tama, and brings her to his place when he becomes aware of the extent of her injuries at the hands of his mother.

Because initially Izri is benevolent and comparably nicer than his relatives, Tama falls in love with him. However, Izri proves to be manipulative, abusive, and adulterous. His presence in Tama’s life becomes a toxic paradox; her heart is filled with love and joy, but Izri’s controlling and possessive nature imprisons Tama in an inescapable world of abuse.

Gabriel lives in the middle of the country. He has turned his back on civilization and retreated to the mountains. Tortured and vengeful, he only strays from his secluded home to kill those who participated in his daughter’s murder.

When a gravely injured and amnesiac young woman stumbles into his home, Gabriel resolves to kill her to protect his vigilante mission, but strangely finds that he doesn’t have the heart to finish the job. He becomes attached to her, and vows to help her recover her memories and, ultimately, save Tama.

In They All Wound, the Last One Kills, Karine Giebel renders a heart-wrenching and powerful story. Through her gripping prose, she tests in her protagonists a terrifying and unbreakable conviction. In denouncing the reality and horror of contemporary human trafficking, Giebel explores the dynamics of power, manipulation, and abuse.

Karine Giebel is a recognized psychological crime author, and has published novels as well as short fiction and poetry. Her characters constantly find themselves fighting an unfair, selfish, and often cruel society. Her work has been translated into nine languages, won several literary prizes, and her books have sold more than a million copies.