Review: Sweetpea, by CJ Skuse
Rhiannon leads a fairly unremarkable life. She works as an assistant at the local paper, socialises with friends that she doesn’t really care for and goes home to the flat she shares with her boyfriend Craig.
The victim of a brutal attack when she was just a child, Rhiannon became something of a local celebrity as she recovered from her injuries. Unfortunately, since then, life has failed to live up to her ambitions.
But she has a killer secret…
Sweetpea is one of the more unique books I’ve read recently. It’s serial killer chick-lit: think Bridget Jones, if Bridget was a serial killer.
It’s Bridget Jones meets Dexter.
And I didn’t even know that was one of the taglines when I first wrote it…
From the beginning, I was hooked by the voice. Rhiannon narrates her story through diary entries, written in her own unique voice. Where Bridget Jones counts calories eaten and cigarettes smoked, Rhiannon lists the people she wants to kill and exactly what they did to piss her off.
Whether it’s her unfaithful boyfriend who’s always pestering her for anal (or a baby) or the guy at Lidl who doesn’t bag up her groceries properly, Rhiannon isn’t one to let go of a grudge.
And she gets particularly angry when it comes to sex offenders, even going so far as to pose as a potential victim before she strikes back in bloodcurdling fashion.
There are plenty of genuinely bloody, crude scenes in this book, which are told in a very dark comic way. If you’re someone who doesn’t like gore or is offended by inappropriate sexual desires then steer clear, this probably isn’t for you.
While Sweetpea is often shocking yet hilarious, after a while, I felt there wasn’t much going on beneath the surface. For me, Rhiannon never became much more than her voice. Beyond that, the story becomes a bit repetitive, as Rhiannon circles back, covering the same ground again and again each time she feels the urge to kill someone.
I really wanted to love this. The beginning and end are strong and Rhiannon’s voice and uncompromising outlook on life is compelling, in its own blackly humorous way. But in the end it didn’t hold my interest all the way through – although it is worth sticking with it for the ending.
If you don’t mind a bit of violence and sex, and you aren’t too bothered about a story that moves from one increasingly unpleasant murder to the next, without much in the way of character development, then give this a go.
It’s going to divide opinion, but you might just love it.
Release date: 20 April 2017
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, but all opinions are my own.