My partner recently bought me a book subscription, so every month I get four books, 2 sachets of hot chocolate (umm, where’s the wine?) and a small packet of biscuits. After brushing the biscuit crumbs that my partner left behind from off the pile of books, the first book I read was awful, complete tosh. So after pouring myself a large glass of red, I decided to give the second book a try. This was an improvement on the first one, more depth to the characters (who were smoke jumpers – bush fire fighters who are parachuted in behind the fire to aid in its extinguishment – if extinguishment is the right word for a full on bush fire?). But the plot was a little predictable, X falls in love with Y, but Y has issues and doesn’t want to get involved – blah, blah – with the odd fire thrown in for good measure. Readable, but not electrifying (similar to my reviews perhaps?).

However, book number three was much better (although I had lost count of what number glass of red wine I was on by that point, so if you read it and don’t enjoy it, blame the wine).

The story is based around the Hurst family – mum, dad, two daughters and a son. Nothing special you might think? Well, how about if the mother is an emotional control freak from the depths of the ninth circle of Dante’s Hell; the father is a secret alcoholic who’s possibly having an affair; the teenage son has been convinced by his mother that he has Asperger’s and Epilepsy (he doesn’t) and should be home-schooled; daughter one has run away after becoming pregnant, and daughter number two has just been sectioned for allegedly attacking her brother with a kitchen knife (I bet lockdown would be a barrel of laughs in their house).

Written from the perspective of two of the children, the story gives an insight into their thoughts and emotions as they battle with everyday life, trying to work out their place in the world, as well as how best to deal/circumnavigate their mother. The son, Will takes the side (or has been manipulated to) of his mother, whilst the daughter, Violet, recognises the matriarch for what she is – completely crackers with the emotional support range of a flattened teaspoon.

The plot twists and turns, showing you the glimpse of an insight here, a partial truth there, and imagined perceptions scattered liberally. Ok, it’s not going to be the best book you ever read, and the subject matter isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but I found it to be tense (in places), dark (all of it) and creatively written. It’s £9 on Amazon, and I’m not sure I’d pay that much for it, but if you can find a copy from somewhere a bit cheaper, why not give it a go.

Thanks for reading & take care, Jim

April 2024