Book Review: Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog... but she's got a killer secret.
Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhiannon's life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demanding and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend's plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.
From the man on the Lidl checkout who always manhandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming. Rhiannon's ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder...

So. Okay. Wow. First thing's first. I don't think that I have ever read a book like this one before. Quite honestly, I think Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse is in a league all of its own. This is one of those books that you feel quite strange admitting you enjoyed reading because it's rather... well, disturbing. And grotesque. And gruesome. But yet completely and utterly bloody hilarious. Take note of the 'bloody' there, please readers. The thing is though, I did enjoy it. Tremendously so. It had a certain punch to it. A bravery to the writing on the author's part because it is simply so OUT THERE, so WILD, so RISKY and so perfectly SHOCKING. Despite the dark edge to this novel, there were moments where the author had me chuckling away to myself. Her dark sense of humour seemed to match mine entirely because I seemed to be laughing at the same things Rhiannon found funny (not sure if that's good or bad). Reading this novel felt like taking a walk on the dark-side with quite a dangerous woman who, despite the risks, you sort of want to be best friends with. Sort of. Not entirely. Actually, scratch that. Maybe it's best not. Just in case...

In C.J. Skuse's devastatingly dark novel Sweetpea, readers are introduced to the one and only Rhiannon. From the get-go, it becomes clear pretty sharpish that although this woman is out with her friends and appears to be enjoying herself on the outside, something isn't quite right. With her. With the situation. Skuse takes the reader into the twisted depths of Rhiannon's mind and throughout this novel, we're witness to her innermost thoughts and feelings. Each day is given to the reader in diary-format which I have always found pleasure in reading when it comes to fiction, opening up Rhiannon's character in the most vulnerable of ways. What I loved was hearing Rhiannon's take on the world she lived in. Although her friends and work colleagues accept her as a completely normal woman, on the inside it's a whole different story. As the novel progresses, the reader is witness to a number of decisions that Rhiannon makes, from her career to her love life to the people she has the urge to kill, the urges becoming more regular than they have been in a long time.

C.J. Skuse delivers Rhiannon's past in the most mysterious and intriguing of ways. I was so desperate to learn more of Rhiannon's history, to figure out what had happened in order to make her into the woman she was today. What I also adored about this novel was how, even though Rhiannon was clearly dangerous, Skuse ensured we saw the softer parts of her too. For example, her dog Tink was clearly one of the major loves of Rhiannon's life and I smiled my face off whenever the two spent time together alone. This relationship they shared seemed to be the only one that Rhiannon actually genuinely cared about, which showed that she did have a heart inside, albeit a dark one.

I was addicted to Sweetpea from page one. As I said above, this is such a risky novel but it seriously pays off. It's an insight into a killer's mind, and truly captures the 'don't judge a person by their appearance' concept. There were so many moments within this story where I was on the edge of my seat, racked with nerves over whether Rhiannon was seconds away from being found out. This only grew more intense as I got closer towards the end where a pretty devastating finale was waiting for me. It completely blew me away. All I can say is hurry up with the next one, C.J. Skuse. I can hardly wait to see where you will take Rhiannon next...

Hummingbird Reviews is awarding Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse with five out of five stars. A killer novel, with a killer lead, with a killer instinct. You'll be torn between wanting to love or hate her. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy of this book.

You can grab your copy of Sweetpea on Amazon UK.