‘The perfect wife.
A fairytale family.
Don’t believe your eyes.’
The Stepmother is the latest novel from Claire Seeber, published by Bookouture. I received my copy from NetGalley and Bookouture in ebook format. My review is my own opinion and is as honest as ever!!
‘Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.
No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.
And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.
But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.
Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.
After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending … doesn’t it?’
The Stepmother is a novel told through the eyes of two sisters, Jeanie and Marlena
Jeanie has just married Matthew and moved into his mansion with his son Luke and daughter Scarlett. Aware of the difficulties that lie ahead for her as the new stepmother, Jeanie has bought the books and done her research. Jeanie really wants this to work out.
Marlena, Jeanie’s younger sister, is a journalist. Living in London, with her own issues to deal with, Marlena’s narrative is an aside, It’s as though she is seeing it all happen from outside a bubble, as she looks on. Marlena is quite a cynic and from the beginning the feelings of doubt about Jeanie’s marriage are there.
‘There was something about the picture I didn’t like: something I couldn’t quite put my finger on immediately.
Marlena is quite an enigma in the novel…..
Jeanie has a son Frankie from a previous relationship. Jeanie has always done her best as a single mother through the various struggles in her life. Frankie is now of college age so Jeanie has to get used to occasional visits from him.
‘We belong in our old rented place, with damp patches and mould and mismatched furniture; gaudy, cheap curtains and plastic bath suites; Elsie knocking on the wall when Frankie played his music too loud. Not here, in this opulence. It’s all pretend.’
Jeanie tries her best to settle into this beautiful house with the turrets. It’s beyond her wildest dreams. The house, Matthew, the perfect marriage, her new blended family…
But all is not as it seems. Something is following Melanie. Haunting her dreams are these memories that are constantly floating to the surface, knocking her confidence.
‘We are a product of what we grow up in. Not necessarily always our genes, it turns out – but a lot about our nurture.’
She starts to live in a state of high alert. Her relationship with Kaye, Matthew’s ex is strained. Her relationship with Matthew’s kids is faltering. Can anyone truly live the dream?
As the book progresses, strange events start occurring in Jeanie’s life. She starts to hear noises in the house. Unexpected post arrives which frightens her. Strange incidences happen, leading Jeanie to believe she is losing it. Nobody believes her and her perfect life starts to unravel.
No spoilers so I won’t reveal anymore!!
What I will say is that The Stepmother is a psychological thriller. It does contain many of the elements one expects from this genre but for me there were just a few too many loose endings. I also found some of the characters a little unrealistic.
I have been reading quite a lot of psychological thrillers at the moment and I suppose my opinion has shifted a little.
This is a good read with twists and turns and unexpected happenings…but I honestly couldn’t say it’s a great read.
For fans of Claire Seeber’s previous novels though, I’m sure it won’t disappoint!!!
About the Author:
Claire Seeber is a Londoner who started professional life as a (bad) actress and became a documentary maker, a journalist and a writer of, so far, psychological thrillers.
The Observer said of her first novel: ‘a disturbing debut’ whilst The Guardian called it ‘powerful’…she keeps writing whilst also studying psychology and (trying to) to manage a home of slightly feral kids and animals.
Luckily she’s got a very nice partner to help too. (via Amazon.co.uk)