Tuesday 28 January 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Home - Sarah Stovell

A dark and emotive thriller which shines a light on the troubling issue of children in care, The Home marks the return of Sarah Stovell, author of the 2017 international bestseller Exquisite.

When the body of pregnant, fifteen-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. 

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge. 

A dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking and insightful portrayal of the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all. 

What did I think?

It's a slight change to my 'I discovered this author at Newcastle Noir 2019' record, as I had already bought a signed copy of Sarah Stovell's debut, Exquisite, from the awesome Forum Books in Corbridge but of course I haven't read it yet (so many books so little time).  So The Home may be the first novel I've read by Sarah Stovell but it's definitely one I won't forget.

Despite not having a problem saying it with regards to crime thrillers, I feel a bit guilty saying that I enjoyed a book that's so dark and disturbing, but it's a whole different ball game when there are children involved.  Set in a children's home, it's inevitable that the characters will be damaged and disturbed; through the power of Sarah Stovell's writing I felt incredibly disturbed myself.  It's not all darkness, as where there is dark there is light, and I'm glad that Hope and Annie found each other and experienced the unconditional love they both missed out on in their childhood.  

To be able to write about such a dark subject matter with such beautiful words is an amazing feat in itself.  From the very first page, I was completely in awe of Sarah Stovell's writing and think I may have read the best line ever written in a book: "We were fragile like bombs."  It's giving me goosebumps just typing it here.  Those five little words set the tone of the book perfectly as we delve into the past of the three girls in The Home.

Although The Home is mostly set in The Lake District, Hope spent her brief childhood in North East England.  I always get a little kick out of reading local places I know in books and it was great to see Jesmond and Tynemouth getting a mention.  Hope's story is not for the faint-hearted and as much as it saddened me, it also angered me at the thought of what some unfortunate people have to do to survive.  It made me wonder: if you need to take drugs to escape your life, is it even worth surviving it at all?

Deeply disturbing, The Home is a powerful, haunting and completely unforgettable book.  The harrowing subject matter is portrayed so eloquently as to be shocking yet heartbreaking.  It's books like this that make me question whether 5 stars are even enough, but 5 stars is all I can give but it doesn't come close to showing how simply stunning this book is.  It's an absolute must-read and I can't recommend it highly enough.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

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