Book Review: Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

SweetpeaSweetpea by C.J. Skuse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liked this a lot. It’s a cross between Bridget Jones Diary and Dexter. Hilariously funny at one moment and rather gruesome the next. I am slightly concerned with how often I agreed with main character Rhiannon’s thoughts but so far I haven’t actually killed anyone so I’m not quite at psychopath yet.

Definitely a story I’d recommend to anyone with a black sense of humor.


Synopsis (from GoodReads)

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

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 demeaning 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 mishandles 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…


Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of C.J. Skuse ever since I read YA horror Monster a couple of years ago. When she followed this up with the seriously underrated The Deviants last year I couldn’t wait to see what she would do next. I have to admit when I heard she was writing a book for adults I became seriously excited. I love my YA but the thought of Skuse, being able to really go for it definitely appealed.

The story itself is written more or less like the diary of main character Rhiannon (hence all the comparisons to Bridget Jones Diary). Each day however begins not with a recounting of how many cigarettes smoked or how much she weighs (although there are a few references to failed dieting) but with a kill list. From the supermarket checkout operator to random strangers who cross her path to co workers and even boyfriend Craig no one is safe from the list. When something happens one night and she ends up killing someone it’s the beginning of a murderous spree.

I think whether you like this book or not will probably come down to your sense of humor and general squeamishness. It is a book about a woman on a killing spree and the author doesn’t hold back from the blood and gore. This is however interspersed with a lot of dark humor and I found myself wanting to cover my eyes one minute and giggling away the next.

Rhiannon is a brilliantly fascinating character. She has one face that she shows the world, pretending to be normal and trying to fit into the role people expect of her (girl next door, supportive friend, loving girlfriend, newspaper skivvy) but inside she’s constantly plotting and thinking murderous thoughts, a lot of which I found totally spot on. It kind of shocked me just how much I agreed with Rhiannon and how much I kinda liked her. Not sure I’d want to meet her in case I ended up on her bad side but she’s great to read.

There isn’t much of a story, it’s pretty much Rhiannon living her life, having murdery thoughts and occasionally acting on them but it’s an enjoyable read. If I had one criticism it’s that I felt it went on a little too long and was a bit slow in the middle. It did however have a big and shocking finish so I’m hopeful there’s more to come.

Overall, dark, disturbing and full of black humor. I’d definitely recommend if you’re a fan of shows like Dexter and aren’t overly squeamish.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC.

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