A Year of Orenda – The Home by Sarah Stovell

Today I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Home, the latest psychological thriller from Sarah Stovell. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour and to mpublisher Orenda Books who provided an advance copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy

About the Book

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.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books

My Thoughts

The Home by Sarah Stovell is a highly absorbing, beautifully written, stark and often shocking novel which held my attention from the very first page. It is not always an easy read, and if you are not able to handle books which talk about grooming, abuse and neglect of children you may want to walk away. If you are happy to read a book in which these subjects surround an overwhelmingly powerful and affecting mystery then read on.

This is the story of Hope, Lara and Annie, three girls who live their days in a remote children’s home, one which is close to closure but one which represents almost their final chance. When Hope’s body is discovered it is the catalyst for a story which slowly reveals the girls’ traumatic pasts and believe me when I say that nothing can prepare you for what you are about the read. It is shocking, but not gratuitous. Emotionally manipulative? Without question. You will be left wondering if these are children who have been let down by not only their family but by the state too.

Each story is laid out carefully, the language used perfectly to create the right atmospheric tone – the undeniable shock, compassion and outrage – at what you are reading. Hope’s story beggars belief and yet it is, sadly, very believable and something that could have been ripped from the headlines. The chapters that take us back into her past will break your heart as she does all that we witness in the name of love and family. Annie’s is perhaps a more familiar and yet no less tragic story and Lara’s story is equally as dark as Hope’s and yet we know less about it as Lara is a girl who will not speak.

Sarah Stovell has created three very diverse characters but all are ones who you can feel a real affinity or kind of understanding for. She has infused the story with a sense of reality, but in doing so created a situation where you feel nothing but sympathy for the people you are reading about, no matter what they have done. In the supplementary characters you have those you can like and appreciate for their attempts to help the three girls and those, such as Hope’s mother who, while you can perhaps understand her condition, you cannot forgive for what ultimately comes to pass. It will floor you.

As with Exquisite, the narrative style of the author’s writing is perfect. The evocative imagery and sense of place that she creates, is spot on. The sense of isolation of the home itself echoes the isolation felt by the three girls, the threatening nature of the remote countryside around them a warning of the tragedy that was to come. We were offered glimmers of light to break up the incessant gloom, moments where the love between Hope and Annie looked as though it might become something more and overcome their pasts, but we were still faced with the inevitability of what had been spelled out from the very first page.

Everything about the book fell just perfectly for me, but in ways I find it hard to articulate. That sense of mystery behind what happened on that fateful day, the emotional toil of reading each backstory, even the dedication but weariness of Home manager, Helen, all added to the novel which became a touch more than the sum of its parts. A modern tragedy, one that is all too relatable to current times. And then the resolution. The final reveal of what happened. The one revelation that I don’t think anyone was expecting. That is how to keep a reader in suspense.

A dark and intelligent character driven narrative, full of intense imagery and emotion, this book is definitely one you need to read. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t. This was a one sitting read for me, and they are a very rare breed these days, but this one had my head, and my heart, from the beginning.

A worthy recipient of this:

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.

Author links: Twitter

Follow the tour:

Books by Sarah Stovell:

3 thoughts on “A Year of Orenda – The Home by Sarah Stovell

Comments are closed.