ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – #SticksAndStones by Jo Jakeman @JoJakemanWrites @HarvillSecker @Mia_QS @DeadGoodBooks #BlogTour
How far would you go for revenge on your ex? That’s the tagline of Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman which I’m reviewing today. My thanks to Mia Quibell-Smith from Vintage for the review copy and the place on the tour. The book came with an order of service for Phillip Rochester’s funeral and it was clear from the red pen amendments that Phillip was not a liked man!
Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.
In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?
Sticks and Stones is a deliciously twisting psychological thriller from an unforgettable new voice.
I had to smile at the first line of Sticks and Stones. “I expected to feel free, unburdened, but when the curtains close around Phillip Rochester’s satin-lined coffin, all I feel is indigestion”. I think that pretty much sets the tone for the whole book.
Imogen is Phillip’s estranged wife and mother of his young son, Alistair. Phillip is the sort of man who wears people down with his words and as a policeman, he’s well aware of how to cause maximum physical pain with minimum visible signs left behind. His current girlfriend, Naomi, knows just what he’s like. Ruby, his first wife, still wears rose-tinted spectacles where Phillip is concerned but for how much longer?
In a moment of panic and madness, Imogen locks Phillip in her cellar and from thereon we count down to the day of his funeral with no idea of what actually happens to him. Naomi and Ruby end up drawn into events and the three women work together to try and figure out how to get Phillip out of their lives. I loved the relationship between the three of them – sisters doing it for themselves and all that.
This is quite a dark novel (domestic abuse, violence and more), but the author writes with a sharp wit as you can tell from that opening line. I raced through around two thirds of it until I unfortunately had to break off but I could quite happily have just carried on until the end. It’s an easy and pacy read in terms of writing style, but it wasn’t always easy reading about a man as cruel and unpleasant as Phillip.
A story like this could have descended into implausibility and whilst it’s not the sort of thing that happens everyday, Jakeman managed to avoid that and keep me rooting for Imogen, Naomi and Ruby. Phillip is a loathsome creation and he deserved locking in a cellar! Good on them, I say.
Sticks and Stones is a page turner of a domestic thriller and a fabulous story of revenge with some incredibly well drawn leading characters. As a debut novel it exudes promise for Jo Jakeman’s writing future. As the end approached I was turning those pages faster and faster to find out what fate had in store for Phillip, and indeed for the three women. I’m happy to say that I was very pleased with the outcome. I shall look forward to reading more of this author’s work.
Jo Jakeman was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Sticks and Stones is her debut thriller.