I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Orenda Books on 22 January 2020
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Domestic
Format: ARC, eBook
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A gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller centring around three troubled girls in a children's home, by the bestselling author of Exquisite
'I was immediately ensnared into the devastating and dark world of The Home and devoured it in one day ... A triumph' Holly Seddon
'Gripping, sinister and utterly heartbreaking ... I absolutely loved it' Lisa Hall
One more little secret ... one more little lie...
When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old 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 gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also an emotive drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live ... if they are allowed to live at all.
'So beautiful and haunting and ghostly and addictive and intense and sad and shocking. Just wow' Louise Beech
'A vividly disturbing, eloquent and enthralling tale ... striking, thought-provoking, compulsive storytelling' LoveReading
A poignant and a slash to the chest kind of read. In order to love a book, you need to find something that speaks to you. It needs to draw out connections. It simply knows how you tick. The Home had this in spades. The talent coming to life in these pages are like liquid gold – valuable and rare. It has the addictive pull that ties you down and stops you doing your chores. The only thing The Home does is take you hostage and holds you to ransom until you have read the final word of the final page.
This book has everything you need to hold your attention in a futile struggle. The stable Children’s Home. A forbidden love. Terrible parenting. Terrible decisions. Toxic relationships. A death. The death of a potential future. Layered betrayals. Deceit. And all the heartbreak you can take.
Sarah Stovell is an author that obviously lives and breathes her writing. The book has taken on an entity all its own. It’s like she has the secret formula that can break a heart. Mine blew straight out of my chest. Her narrative then leaves you searching for the missing pieces for the entirety of the novel. The tears pricked my eyes, my heart physically hurt but left me with an overwhelmingly urge to hug my babies tightly. I needed to show them the love I felt.
This definitely a hard book to read. The content is overwhelming. It’s a story that is meant to unseat you and make you uncomfortable. It’s hard and harrowing and makes you take a long hard look at your comfy existence. You might have experienced hard ship yourself but just how bad have you had it? It pulls and extracts such an intense level of empathy from your body…I had an all-encompassing feeling of just wanting to mother these girls. If I had the space, I would have taken them in in an instant.
This is the first book I have read by Sarah Stovell but by all means and purposes she is hitting legendary status. I will rectify that as soon as I possibly can. The characters she creates are broken, with a story to tell, dark and deep histories, but they have such a capacity for love. It’s amazing that after everything they have been through they can show love towards one another. Hope and Annie have such dogged determination. Neither of them want to be in this situation. It was never a conscious choice. They were dealt the worst betrayal from parents that should have given their lives for their kids.
The Home is a children’s Home that is a safe Haven to Hope (15) and Annie (15) and Lara (12). There have the good fortune of being surrounded by the Lake District. Despite the circumstances it could, indeed, be a lot worse. The setting, the opening chapter, the creeping shadow of desolation and despair had me hook, line and sinker. I was done for – I ended up racing to the finish.
Why you ask?
Well, Sarah Stovell has created a perfect cadence of a highly addictive plot that seeps in its intensity but try as you might to slow the reading, to savour each delicious page…it is impossible. The characters, although they have been broken down by life, they display the most amazing strength and dare I even say it a hunger to still continue living. Hope toys with the idea of ending it all but I genuinely put that down to not having any direction. These girls are the epitome of the word survival.
The story kicks off on Christmas day. Two girls are missing – Hope and Annie and Lara is in The Home, silent and unyielding. Choices come full circle and that message is being shouted loud and clear. It’s audible, deafening and terrifyingly deep. A girl is found beside the water, dead and the other is hysterical with her grief. It is bone deep. After the story starts to unfold you wonder just how much one person can take?
Annie’s metamorphosis from victim to survivor is poignantly beautiful – she’s scarred and with flaws, but she stands tall. The author has wrote about a superhero in my eyes and her characterisation spoke to me so clearly. It was impossible not to love her.
The Home is a chillingly, deeply disturbing take on the unreliable narrator. It unseats you. The narrative is razor sharp and unlike anything you have ever read before.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THE HOME
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.