When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For she 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 harrowing psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all…
‘Passions flare and curdle, and the reader’s sympathies are kept on a knife-edge as Stovell skilfully juggles two unreliable narrators. It’s a remarkable debut in the crowded psychological thriller field, written with great sureness of touch and tone — it already feels like a summer bestseller’ Sunday Times
It sometimes feels like I’m sprouting a cliché when I say a thriller is dark, but it is so appropriate to Sarah Stovell’s devastatingly emotional and shocking tale of three deeply damaged girls, who live in a home for cared for children.
The writing is powerful and conveys with a deft hand the many ways they are damaged by events in their past. She takes the horror and weaves it into a tale that refuses to be forgotten know matter how long ago you turned the last page. It haunts both your mind and your heart and forced me as a reader to take a step back and acknowledge the many ways we let these children down. Not only did it expose flaws in the care system, it painted a complex and nuanced portrayal of each individual child. Their actions both horrified me and shattered my heart, for in having to survive childhood, they become fragile and angry. Having experienced the damage done to such children, I promise you that the writer is giving you a masterclass in portraying both their anger and emotional vulnerability. Adults in this story rarely come across as up to the task of protecting them and as a result, the death of one, gives us a thriller of such complexity, it will leave you a wreck for many weeks after.
The details of abuse are not there to shock for shocks sake; they are there to paint a picture of broken children, on the verge of turning into damaged adults and the consequences for them and those around them, of society’s failure to protect them. From page one, to the end, we are given a glimpse into what shaped them, why they’re in the home and are chilled to the core about the events that lead to Hope’s death. It is impossible to put the book down, your desperate for the possibility of redemption, you want with all your heart that her death leads to justice. Your almost scared to read on though, because the writer digs deep into the events and that’s difficult to face, but your compelled and there is no stopping. I was invested in their story from page one and put on my big girls pants and faced my darkest fears. Was it worth it, bloody hell yes? The reward is that as a reader, I didn’t look away, I took the journey with Hope, Lara and Annie and it was indeed difficult and devastating, but great stories, great literature force you to think, make your heart beat faster than should be possible, make you forget the world around you.
If you’re looking for a psychological thriller of the best type then read The Home. The author has delivered a story with an emotional punch, which will leave you doubled up. It makes you think, it makes you feel complex emotions and it is worth every single second of your precious reading time. You will never forget it and that is the mark of a magnificent story.
My thanks to the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an review.
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 a number-one bestseller.
You can follow the author on Twitter.