How to play dead : Jacqueline Ward

Title: How to play dead
Author: Jacqueline Ward

Publication Date: 2019
No. Of pages: 335
Where I got it: Pre-publication read from Readers First
Time to read: The first 80 pages, one week. Then finished it in two days! I blame the time of year.
One sentence review: Good solid thriller, with interesting character development and a couple of good twists.

TRIGGER WARNING: This book focuses on domestic violence. There is also a reference to animal cruelty.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | 5

This book primarily focuses on Ria, the manager of SafeMe, a refuge for anyone suffering domestic violence, but primarily women and children.

But Ria herself has problems. Bailiffs knocking on the door and an estranged father due to his racist attitude towards her husband, Danny. Danny is mostly prominent through Ria’s thoughts and their text messages as he’s gone away to work on a 30 day contract which should help their financial worries.

But it’s a long 30 days, especially when Ria receives a burner phone and starts to receive creepy and threatening messages.

What I loved
I struggled to get into this book. But at 80 pages I was totally drawn in and my poor boyfriend didn’t see me for two days as my head was stuck in its pages! I really felt intrigued by Freya’s diary entries and was definitely thirsty for more where they came from, as it drip fed the story to me. What I didn’t quite get was that we were reading the diary entries in real-time, whilst for a long time I thought more time had lapsed since they’d been written.

I also really liked the insight into what life is like in a refuge and understanding the challenges faced by the AMAZING people who work in them. It was really insightful and I feel like a delicate subject was handled well.

What I didn’t love
Although this is a spoiler, it won’t ruin how the story unfolds for you. There’s one point where a dog gets drowned as a form of emotional abuse on the owner of the dog. It broke my heart. I can imagine this sort of thing really does go on all the time.

I also found in parts that points that were potentially quite significant, weren’t explicitly set out. I found myself a few times skipping back to see if I’d missed something. Often I found that wasn’t the case – I’d just missed the inference as it wasn’t particularly obvious.

One final thing – the title. I couldn’t quite get the link to the story being told. On reflection, I sussed it out, but it was definitely tenuous.

All in all this is a good read. It’s a tough subject matter though so it definitely won’t be for everyone.