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.

The Stepmother by Ros Carne
Published by Canelo on April 8 2021
Genres: Domestic Thriller
Pages: 257
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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three stars - The Stepmother by Ros Carne | Book Review

After a series of heartbreaking miscarriages, Kate’s marriage is hanging by a thread. When her husband Michael tells her he has shocking news, at first, she thinks the worst – he’s been having an affair. It would explain why he’s been so distant. Instead, he reveals that the daughter he abandoned twenty years ago is coming to stay.

Kate is blindsided by the sudden arrival of Imogen mere hours later. Her new stepdaughter is beautiful but troubled and seems wary of her own father. All the same, Kate is pleased to find herself connecting with Imogen, until one day, Imogen reveals a disturbing secret to her stepmother, making her swear never to tell a soul.

With Kate already keeping secrets of her own, she worries her marriage will crumble under the weight of another. But perhaps it’s not Imogen’s intrusion Kate should be worried about. Perhaps it’s Michael’s past she should have been looking at all along…
A completely addictive thriller that will keep you guessing into the early hours of the morning. Perfect for fans of The Stepdaughter, Shalini Boland and K.L. Slater.

The Stepmother is more a domestic thriller than one that pinpoints at psychological.  It tells a story of Kate, a woman who is suffering after the loss of multiple babies.  The miscarriages are draining her, and the only thing that really has her focus is her work, sculpting.  The prologue opens with a shock – someone being lowered into a makeshift grave.  It had me intrigued especially as the narrative leads you to believe that the person being put into a grave is who is deeply loved.  What is the story behind it?  It’s a great opener and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

I’ve been mulling over just how I would review The Stepmother.  It had a great premise, and it is just the kind of book that I enjoy time and time again.  The cover is instantly eye catching and I loved the premise of a stepmother meeting her husbands’ child and the secrets that would span from that thread, but it unfortunately fell slightly flat for me.  Don’t get me wrong, the writing was itself was excellent and I did read the novel very quickly it was more the plot and characterization that I struggled with.

The story of The Stepmother is one about Kate and Michael.  There is an obvious age gap between them, but Kate has never let that bother her.  She has enjoyed being in a relationship with someone that is already established and with a good career.  The obvious next step for them was to have a baby but for reasons unknown Kate and Michael have suffered miscarriages.  Its obviously had an impact on their relationship but even so, Michael is a very distant and emotionally unavailable character.  He is a barrister and often stays in Bristol for work, in the flat that they own. 

Things start to go awry when Kate meets Steve, a butcher in town.  He’s a dog lover like her.  There is an instant appreciation for his looks.  She’s a sculptor and has this indescribable urge to sculpt his head.  She convinces him to sit for her.  Then Imogen turns up, Michael’s daughter from a previous relationship.  She is obviously messed up but just why is she that way?  What has happened?  Stepmother and stepdaughter quickly get along with each other and develop a bond, when a secret is revealed about her husband, she is left dazed and blindsided.

The Stepmother is more about the story of one woman’s actions and how that spirals into a catastrophic mess.  It’s the domino effect, one she takes one course of action it affects everyone around her.  I did think the synopsis was a bit misleading, the secret is a minor subplot and wasn’t really what the story was about.  Its one of those stories that I wanted to love more than I did. 


ABOUT ROS CARNE

Ros Carne.a6730122.fill 300x300 - The Stepmother by Ros Carne | Book Review

Ros Carne was born in London, and following university she worked in magazine and newspaper journalism including as a theatre critic on the Guardian. She later retrained as a barrister, practising for 13 years before moving to a university teaching job. She has two adult sons and enjoys playing the violin. Ros now lives in Somerset where she writes full time.

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three stars - The Stepmother by Ros Carne | Book Review