Dancing with the Octopus: The Telling of a True Crime

Dancing with the Octopus: The Telling of a True Crime by Debora Harding

As seen:

By Debora Harding

avg rating

8 reviews


28 Sep 2020


I loved this well written book. Debora's problems didn't begin with the attack at the age of 14, nor did it end there.. This book details the traumas in Debora's life before and after the attack. This is a very moving book and very readable. I loved the way the book moved backwards and forwards in short chapters. It is compelling reading, showing the resilience and bravery of a child subjected to a tumultuous childhood, a devastating attack at 14 and the aftermath. How do you deal with all this? This is Debora's way.

24 Sep 2020


Dancing with the Octopus review
I was so pleased my book club ( The Three horse shoes ) was able to preview this excellent and deep book. I would never have chosen a true dreadful crime story as book to read but this book was so much more than that. I have nothing but the deepest admiration for Deborah Harding. Her strength her and her writing ability in describing what happened and the slowly emerging story of the horror and violence she endured from Mr K and her mother. Despite all the battles she has face to retain her sanity and build her own loving family her book gives the reader the a true picture of the depth of the damage a horrific crime inflicts on a survivor and then the relentless, ongoing damage inflicted on children of a cruel abusive mother.
The book, in the narration of what happened touches so many levels, the justice system, the complexities of relationships, the fight to understand cope with the aftermath of the crime and abuse, the strength of love and courage and the determination to survive mentally and physically.
I would certainly recommend this book

18 Sep 2020

Sylvia D

As a member of the Three Horseshoes reading group I had the privilege of reading a copy of Dancing with the Octopus and I hugely enjoyed it. Initially I thought the format of time changing in the chapters wouldn’t appeal to me but on the contrary it kept me interested wanting to know more. Debora Harding as a child was an extremely courageous person during the kidnap and also in later years when she met her kidnapper but unfortunately the combination of her abused childhood and the kidnapping took its toll on her during mid life.
Debora is a survivior and I would recommend this book for others to read.

15 Sep 2020


This is an incredible book. An extraordinary, personal - at times raw - memoir from the author, who was kidnapped at knifepoint when aged 14 and held to ransom. This is a brave book which is deep, personal, subjective, yet open and soul bearing, telling the intimate and eloquently written story of her life before, during and beyond that moment.

The book alternates between chapters from the past to the present day (or near enough) seamlessly, as we travel on Debora’s traumatic and largely violent journey with her.

At times the brutality portrayed in the book is hard to take in but overall, through all the trauma and life defining events that make up her life-story, Deborah also eloquently portrays the intensity of love, her ability to hope, to seek the truth and the believe in restorative justice shine through. A recommended must read.

There were many things that could have crushed the spirit and life from Debora but despite her dysfunctional and disintegrating family life; the assaults and their impact on her, her sisters, father and mother, there are moments peppered with humour (some of it black), the belief in seeing good and the quest to find ‘normality’ and inner peace.

15 Sep 2020

elaine c

I am a member of The Three Horseshoes Book Group and was fortunate to receive a proof copy of this book.
A unique, moving and harrowing memoir, makes for compelling reading. It’s gripping and full of suspense from the outset. An outpouring, it’s fast paced and fluent, with vivid and extraordinarily detailed descriptions of the writer’s childhood, her relationship with her parents and the kidnapping and snapshots of the life of the kidnapper who she calls K.
The brevity and focus of each section works well and moves the reader through the writers story, forwards and backwards, describing and honing in on incidents. The relentless, continuous and painful picture of life with her mother is almost as awful to read as the terror of kidnapping. The writer makes desperate attempts to try and make her father understand what she has endured and later feels compelled to do the same with the kidnapper. There is thoughtful, wise commentary along the way and the writer gives an excellent portrayal of time and place.
However, this book is essentially about the aftermath of the events in the writers childhood and the emotional and physical abuse she suffered. Her mother’s role in this is clear. More challenging is the complex relationship with her father – absent in more ways than one and the man who did not protect her. There is thoughtful and wise commentary along the way, but the driving force of this memoir resonates with us all. The need to tell, to explain, understand and make sense of our worlds and those closest to us.

13 Sep 2020


I too am a member of The Three Horseshoes Reading book and was lucky enough to be given a copy. It was a book I couldn’t put down as I needed to know more about the author and her state of mind after writing and sharing with us the trauma which controlled her life. She is a strong woman who has dignity, compassion and the ability to look forward now.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this read.

10 Sep 2020


The Three Horseshoes Reading Group was lucky to be allocated proof copies through Reading Groups for Everyone and many of us viewed the online interview of Debora Harding by Kate Mosse.

This book is very harrowing in places but always leaves the reader with a sense of hope. Debora shares her experiences of her childhood and teen years and reflects back using with the perspective, wisdom and hindsight of a 50 year old. The book unexpectedly incorporates humour and shows how it is possible to heal the mind and body after suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from multiple traumas.

It was particularly enlightening to see the interview with Kate Mosse and to hear the healing experience likened to being with 'an 8-armed octopus'.

I found the book flowed easily once I had got used to the different time periods described in separate chapters. The story was gripping right to the end and promotes how healing can be commenced if we have the courage to face our demons and in this book we certainly come face to face with a few demons.

09 Sep 2020


I was hesitant when I received a proof copy as I was uncertain as to whether I would enjoy the telling of a true crime. I was wrong. I was totally blown away by the telling of the story as well as the suffering that Debora went through at home. The tale is told in the voice of a strong bright woman who has a clear understanding of her experiences and gifts the reader with an insight into her own processes in understanding and making sense of her world. This is not the story of a victim in any sense, it is the story of a survivor who has triumphed over adversity, trauma and refuses to sensationalize any of it. A triumph. I was lucky enough to also see her interview with Kate Mosse on Zoom - a real inspiration and I look forward to reading whatever she chooses to write next. Phenomenal.

From the noticeboard