#BookReview: The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean @HodderBooks #TheLastThingtoBurn #damppebbles

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean. The Last Thing to Burn was first published by Hodder & Stoughton on 7th January 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats.

The Last Thing to Burn is one of the biggest books of the last year, without a doubt. I see it discussed on social media a lot, I see it recommended even more. So much so that I made it one of my ’12 books in 12 months’ challenge picks as it was suggested by three (count ’em, three!) fabulous reviewers (I’m looking at you @Zoebeesbooks@Littlemissbook6 and @DelishBooks). And if you’re a regular visitor to damppebbles then you may remember that it was joint winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2021 which immediately makes it a must read for me. Having read the book, experienced its darkness and come out the other side sobbing big, fat, ugly tears I can say I wholeheartedly agree with the exceptional praise this novel has received. The Last Thing to Burn is a truly unsettling, uncomfortable read but it’s essential reading. Devastating, heart breaking but an absolute must read.

Jane and Leonard live together at Fen Farm surrounded by nothing but vast fenland. Leonard is content with his life. He works the land, tends the pigs and comes home to his dinner on the table every night. Jane, his wife, is a prisoner. Very few people know of Jane’s existence and that’s the way it will remain. She cooks, cleans and performs other duties Leonard expects of a wife. She has no choice, otherwise she is punished. She’s watched by cameras 24/7. There is no escape. And definitely no hope. Until something changes. Until a fire is lit within Jane’s being. Now it’s her turn to watch Leonard, and wait…

The first thing to say about The Last Thing to Burn is that it’s not an easy read and if you’re looking for something light then this book is not it. Far from it. It’s dark, it’s horrifying, and it’s harrowing from start to finish. It’s also hugely compelling, utterly absorbing and the tension is pinpoint sharp. My heart broke multiple times. I felt I needed to take a break on several occasions but I just could not tear myself away from Dean’s writing and characterisation.

The characters are frighteningly believable. To me they were real and I lived the horrors of life at Fen Farm alongside them. ‘Jane’ is perfection on a page. I adored her and was hoping, even when it seemed as though all hope had been extinguished, that there would be some small sliver, some ray of light that meant she would come out of this on top. Leonard is utterly despicable, a loathsome brute of a man, but I thought the way the author wrote him was an absolute masterclass in writing a villain. He made my blood boil. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that angry or furious towards one character before. Superbly done.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Last Thing to Burn is deeply unsettling and utterly unnerving. The most uncomfortable book I’ve read this year and rightly so. The subject matter should make us feel uncomfortable. I think something has gone horribly wrong if it doesn’t. The writing is stunning, the characterisation is superb and the setting is perfectly claustrophobic and horribly visual. I could picture the scenes in my mind perfectly. That dank and depressing kitchen with the Rayburn *shudder*. This is an unforgettable novel and I now fully understand why so many reviewers recommend it. Allow me to add my voice to the masses. If you’re a reader of dark fiction and you haven’t picked up The Last Thing to Burn yet then what are you waiting for? You need this book in your life. Highly recommended.

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 3rd February 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoyles | Book Depositorybookshop.org | Goodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Will DeanWill Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes. He is the author of Dark Pines.

*Blog Tour: Review* Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

51E1j1admpL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_“Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

A complex, page-turning psychological thriller, riddled with twists and turns, Epiphany Jones is also a superb dark comedy with a powerful emotional core. You’ll laugh when you know you shouldn’t, be moved when you least expect it and, most importantly, never look at Hollywood, celebrity or sex in the same way again. This is an extraordinary debut from a fresh, exceptional new talent.”

Welcome to my stop on the Epiphany Jones blog tour.  This book is something special and I am thrilled to be a part of the tour, along with some other fabulous bloggers.  Make sure you check out all of the other stops along the way.

Oh. My. Gosh!  I have never read a book quite like Epiphany Jones before.  From the moment I read the blurb I HAD to read this book.  And look at that cover!! Absolutely stunning. This is a brand new reading experience so I suggest you do everything you can to get hold of a copy.  Did I mention that I have NEVER read a book like this one before…??

Jerry suffers from figments, imaginary people who pop into and out of his life at the most inopportune moments.  This is due to his traumatic past; his young sister died of leukaemia and his father died in a horrific car accident, Jerry was also in the car at the time.  Oh, and he’s addicted to porn.  He can keep the figments at bay though by taking his meds, but there’s this one figment who keeps appearing.  She even appears in his dreams!

Whilst Jerry is at lunch one day a priceless painting goes missing from the museum where he works.  He is accused of the theft but only digs himself in deeper by lying when confronted.  Upon his return home he is aghast to find the stolen painting in his apartment.  Confused and wanting to distance himself from the booty he leaves his apartment only to bump into his figment, literally.  But that can’t happen.  Figments are created by his mind and they are not real.  Except this one is and she’s not really a figment.  She’s Epiphany Jones…

This book contains some pretty dark, gutsy themes and you do need a strong stomach for parts of it.  Saying that I am hugely impressed with the way Michael Grothaus has handled these themes within the story.  None of the sexual content felt gratuitous and it was very much necessary for the story.  Even the moments when Jerry is alone (I shall say no more and let your mind fill in the blanks)…

The story flows smoothly and at an enjoyable pace.  My interest was kept from the very first word to the very last.  I couldn’t predict where the story was going and I was always surprised by the twists and turns (full marks from me for that!).  The humour I adored. The blurb is correct, you do find yourself laughing at things which you know you shouldn’t.

I didn’t like Jerry, I did like Jerry and then I didn’t like Jerry again.  Now I have reached the conclusion of the book I definitely DO like Jerry.  The rest of the characters I’m not so sure about.  That is, except Epiphany.  Epiphany is an amazing character, quite possibly my favourite fictional character…ever!

I have to congratulate Michael Grothaus on his use of the word ‘mosey’.  It’s not a word I see often in books but it’s one of my favourites.  Thank you for using it with such aplomb Mr Grothaus.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I would, however, add a cautionary note about it not being for the faint hearted. There is a lot of bad language, copious amounts of sexual content (it’s about sex-trafficking and Jerry is addicted to porn, after all) and a fair amount of graphic violence that even made my tummy flip and that’s saying something as I love blood, guts and gore in my books!

Five stars out of five.

Thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of Epiphany Jones in exchange for an honest review.

Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 16th May 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones |

Smith & Sons (11)92ec49_4f4057921c6b4147bddfc2baee5fa1d7

Novelist and journalist Michael Grothaus was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1977. He spent his twenties in Chicago where he earned his degree in filmmaking from Columbia and got his start in journalism writing for Screen. After working for institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth Century Fox, and Apple he moved to the United Kingdom where he earned his postgraduate degree and began writing for The Guardian, Fast Company, VICE, and others. His debut novel is EPIPHANY JONES, a story about sex trafficking among the Hollywood elite, based on his experiences at the Cannes Film Festival. It will be published by Orenda in May 2016. Michael is represented worldwide by The Hanbury Agency in London, where he lives when not traveling. His writing is read by millions of people each month.

Epiphany Jones Blog tour.jpg