Cover Image: Idle Hands

Idle Hands

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This unfortunately fell a little flat for me. I could get drawn into the plot like normal. Maybe it's me and the lockdown blues. Maybe it's the book. But I know I'll give it another go in 2021 and see
Was this review helpful?
Fantastic ´. Read all in one go. Sliding doors meets the book thief. Looking forward to reading more from this author
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review, Thank you to NetGalley, Agora Books, and the author Cassondra Windwalker. 
What a weird book! After a slow start, the main story that centered around Perdita and her children was gripping and involving, but every section was interspersed with an omniscient narrative from 'Ella', a personification of the Devil, which was just bizarre. It felt like an unnecessary addition, when the story itself was strong enough to stand up on its own. The author was maybe just trying to be a bit too clever here. 
An easy read, and an interesting concept, but in the end it just didn't really work. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.
Was this review helpful?
Idle Hands – Cassondra Windwalker

The description of this is intriguing:
“You can call me Ella. You generally assign me a whole host of other preposterous monikers. I think the least imaginative name I’ve heard is “the devil”, but I’ll answer to it if I must.
After making the courageous decision to leave her abusive husband, Perdie and her three young children start over and finally find the safety and love they deserve. But years later, when tragedy strikes, Perdie is left wondering if the choice she made to leave has led them to this moment.
If she were given the opportunity to take it all back and stay, would she?
In a frantic bid to protect her family, Perdie makes a deal to do just that. But in a world where the devil pulls the strings, can Perdie really change the past?

Brimming with enlightened observations and brilliant voice, Idle Hands is a haunting examination of grief, resilience, and what we’d give to spend another moment with the ones we love.”

I hadn’t read anything else by Cassondra Windwalker (which is a great name, very Star Wars adjacent) but this went on to my digital TBR as soon as I spotted it. Time travelling, moral compass tales with personal growth and interference from external beings? I am IN. 

The narrator is the aforementioned Devil/Ella, who pops in every chapter or so to describe the story in italics. I think you can probably tell, the narrative did not live up to the promise of the premise for me, I’m afraid. 

Perdie is the main character, although we are told quite near the beginning that her son, Tad, is the focus. She manages to move hundreds of miles away from her abusive, controlling husband with three young children, and make a new life for herself. I had trouble with this part, and I think that most of the issues I have with the book come down to the structure of the story, in all honesty. 
I struggled with this part in particular because all we know of her husband is that he will do anything to save face, his own face. And yet she moves his kids across state lines, leaving him alone in their family house and required to tell people why he is suddenly on his own, and nothing happens? Apparently he just settles down and buckles up for a divorce, according to Perdie. 

I didn’t know enough about any of the characters – thumbnail sketches of the two girls rendered them basically interchangeable even though there are a couple of years between them – I couldn’t tell which was supposed to be which, even by the end. 

As readers, we are told that Perdie feels this, knows she reacts like that because of her past, thinks the kids should go to the dance because she says it out loud. We don’t get a chance to be shown the people in the story and for this reason, I think, it was hard to feel connected, to be happy and sad.

The Devil narrator was perhaps the most uneven – I couldn’t understand what he/she wanted. Souls? There’s quite a lot of monologuing on the human soul, and how she lives in the margins and enjoys the organised chaos, the freedom, of the illusion of free will. Or something. I never felt like there was a battle for Perdie’s soul, or anyone else’s for that matter. People do bad things all of the time, and good too – I don’t think it’s necessarily because an intangible figure is pushing them one way or the other. I know it’s not fair to project onto a book what you expected, and be disappointed that it wasn’t – but the summary pointed to a deep analysis of grief and crossroads, that sliding door moment which changes your life forever.  I didn’t see that. 

It was also slow.  The ‘incident’ mentioned in the blurb actually happens halfway through the book. The narrator actually says, a couple of times, that they’d fast forward through some parts and describe it so we were up to date. It’s a slim volume, at a mere 224 pages, so it needs some tight pacing and structuring to get it all in. Somehow, it misses the mark on most of the expected cues. Perhaps it would have been better examining it from that specific point in time, when Perdie makes the decision to stay, or not? Instead, we seem to get years of backstory which could be shown in a couple of vignettes. 

The writing was fine, and there were some lovely phrases in there too. I just wish that the characters were more sharply defined, that there was a clear path from beginning to end. 

It felt, to be completely upfront, like a romance novel wrapped up in an existential book jacket. Both are great, but I’m not a fan of being led into reading something I wasn’t expecting to read.


Idle Hands – Cassondra Windwalker

The description of this is intriguing:
“You can call me Ella. You generally assign me a whole host of other preposterous monikers. I think the least imaginative name I’ve heard is “the devil”, but I’ll answer to it if I must.
After making the courageous decision to leave her abusive husband, Perdie and her three young children start over and finally find the safety and love they deserve. But years later, when tragedy strikes, Perdie is left wondering if the choice she made to leave has led them to this moment.
If she were given the opportunity to take it all back and stay, would she?
In a frantic bid to protect her family, Perdie makes a deal to do just that. But in a world where the devil pulls the strings, can Perdie really change the past?

Brimming with enlightened observations and brilliant voice, Idle Hands is a haunting examination of grief, resilience, and what we’d give to spend another moment with the ones we love.”

I hadn’t read anything else by Cassondra Windwalker (which is a great name, very Star Wars adjacent) but this went on to my digital TBR as soon as I spotted it. Time travelling, moral compass tales with personal growth and interference from external beings? I am IN. 

The narrator is the aforementioned Devil/Ella, who pops in every chapter or so to describe the story in italics. I think you can probably tell, the narrative did not live up to the promise of the premise for me, I’m afraid. 

Perdie is the main character, although we are told quite near the beginning that her son, Tad, is the focus. She manages to move hundreds of miles away from her abusive, controlling husband with three young children, and make a new life for herself. I had trouble with this part, and I think that most of the issues I have with the book come down to the structure of the story, in all honesty. 
I struggled with this part in particular because all we know of her husband is that he will do anything to save face, his own face. And yet she moves his kids across state lines, leaving him alone in their family house and required to tell people why he is suddenly on his own, and nothing happens? Apparently he just settles down and buckles up for a divorce, according to Perdie. 

I didn’t know enough about any of the characters – thumbnail sketches of the two girls rendered them basically interchangeable even though there are a couple of years between them – I couldn’t tell which was supposed to be which, even by the end. 

As readers, we are told that Perdie feels this, knows she reacts like that because of her past, thinks the kids should go to the dance because she says it out loud. We don’t get a chance to be shown the people in the story and for this reason, I think, it was hard to feel connected, to be happy and sad.

The Devil narrator was perhaps the most uneven – I couldn’t understand what he/she wanted. Souls? There’s quite a lot of monologuing on the human soul, and how she lives in the margins and enjoys the organised chaos, the freedom, of the illusion of free will. Or something. I never felt like there was a battle for Perdie’s soul, or anyone else’s for that matter. People do bad things all of the time, and good too – I don’t think it’s necessarily because an intangible figure is pushing them one way or the other. I know it’s not fair to project onto a book what you expected, and be disappointed that it wasn’t – but the summary pointed to a deep analysis of grief and crossroads, that sliding door moment which changes your life forever.  I didn’t see that. 

It was also slow.  The ‘incident’ mentioned in the blurb actually happens halfway through the book. The narrator actually says, a couple of times, that they’d fast forward through some parts and describe it so we were up to date. It’s a slim volume, at a mere 224 pages, so it needs some tight pacing and structuring to get it all in. Somehow, it misses the mark on most of the expected cues. Perhaps it would have been better examining it from that specific point in time, when Perdie makes the decision to stay, or not? Instead, we seem to get years of backstory which could be shown in a couple of vignettes. 

The writing was fine, and there were some lovely phrases in there too. I just wish that the characters were more sharply defined, that there was a clear path from beginning to end. 

It felt, to be completely upfront, like a romance novel wrapped up in an existential book jacket. Both are great, but I’m not a fan of being led into reading something I wasn’t expecting to read.
Was this review helpful?
What If?

This was an amazing read. Very thought provoking. What if you were given a second chance to prevent the greatest horror of your life. Would you do it? Should you do it? This was a hard read, with believable characters who you really want to come out ok. It touches on some very difficult topics in a challenging way. I’m definitely going to be looking out for other novels by this author.
Was this review helpful?
Sorry to go against the general flow of positive reviews, but I really couldn't get on with this book, despite the intriguing title, cover and blurb.  I had to give up after just over 20% because of the intrusive narrative in italics (won't spoil the identity).  I realise this was a deliberate device, meant to frame and orchestrate the plot - it was even hinted at in the title - but I found it a tiresome and irritating separation from the tense, well-paced main plot.  Sorry, but not for me.
Was this review helpful?
10 years ago, Perdie and her children fled from her abusive husband, and never looked back. They've made a new life for themselves, but when tragedy strikes, Perdie is left certain that everything that led to this moment began when she left her husband. So, when offered the chance to change the past, she quickly agrees, desperate to protect her family. But it soon becomes clear that this new path offers dangers of its own...

This is quite possibly one of the most unique books I've ever read! The story is narrated by the devil, who prefers to be referred to as Ella, but this isn't your traditional horns and pitchfork devil. No, Ella is something far more sophisticated and unique... So, the story essentially alternates between chapters written from the POV of Ella and Perdie, with Ella occasionally chirping in during Perdie's chapters too. Perdie's chapters are very much the plot of the book, while Ella's are almost more like philosophical observations, not only on what is happening with Perdie, but also on the human condition more generally. I personally loved the way this was written, as even though it sounds odd, it worked really well!

Now, the plot itself I won't go into too much detail on, as I think it's far better not knowing what happens. What I will say is that it is far more emotive and harrowing than I expected, focusing on complex and sensitive subject matters, with moments of real pain and heartbreak. Not what I expected from a book narrated by the devil! However, its execution was absolutely flawless, leading to the creation of a book that is completely unique, totally gripping, and absolutely perfect. I've never read anything by this author before, but with Idle Hands she has firmly cemented her place on my list of must read authors. 100% one of my standout books of the year. 

Disclaimer - I was fortunate enough to be provided with an advance reading copy of this book by NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I was totally intrigued when I first read the blurb of this book and I loved the alternating dialogue; I just found it extremely repetitive and awkwardly predictable. Once I was about 60% of the way in I realised that nothing new was going to happen (aside from the same narrative being recycled) and I just wanted it to be over. Original concept but not the best execution, in my opinion.

Thank you to Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book is sensational. Haunting, unique and a little weird.

Idle Hands is told from the perspective of Ella, someone that you might as the Adversary or the Devil. The story is a commentary of sorts, on 'good' and 'evil' and the paths someone chooses in life.

Perdie has three children and a victim of domestic abuse. She must make a choice of where her life will lead.

With an all-seeing narrator, the concept of choosing a "path" in life isn't a new one. But the way this story is woven in thought-provoking and deliciously complex and consuming despite it's small size. For anyone who has read and loved Propser's Demon - this is the next book for you to pick up.

A novella that will stick with you for a long, long time.
Was this review helpful?
The devil makes work for “idle hands”. The devil, in different guises, narrates the story of Perdie, married to university professor Matt. Life is good, regular churchgoers, Matt provides well for his family. Behind closed doors it’s another matter. 

Perdie can tolerate the beatings, so long as her children are safe. But when things take a turn for the worse, she decides enough is enough and takes the children to a new life. Was this the right decision though, should she have stayed and what if she had a choice to go back in time? Would she do things differently?

I really liked the concept, but the story left me a little cold. I couldn’t get into the narration, despite trying and finishing the book. I’d rate it 3 stars ⭐️🌟🌟
Was this review helpful?
The cover of this book drew me to it - so beautiful, I'd happily have it as a print on a wall. As I'm reading spooky books in October I decided to jump into Idle Hands which shows a refreshing take on making deal with the Devil.

Ella (aka The Devil) offers Perdie the opportunity to change a decision she made years ago. She is transported back to that time/life with no knowledge of the consequences of her choice the first time. I loved Ella's voice in Idle Hands and she certainly makes you think about life (and death).

Excellent!
Was this review helpful?
A slow start but certainly got better, makes you think about choices. How would you handle the situation, what decisions would you make?
Perdie is a mother in a violent marriage and without realising it makes a deal with the devil.
A interesting book that would get a lot of people thinking.
Thank you netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Bury the Lead by this author, I was so pleased to receive a copy of this book. Yet again the author has managed to have an original take on a seemingly  straightforward tale. I was totally absorbed by this book and the first thing I did on finishing it was to read the Prologue again.
Damned if you do, and damned if you don't comes to mind!
There were so many truths in this book I continued to think about it when I wasn't reading it.
Thought giving Ella the alternative name of the Devil was harsh - I thought of her as Fate.
A very solid 4 stars!
Many thanks to Netgalley/Cassondra Windwalker/Agora Books for a digital copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Interesting take on making a deal with the devil. A strong exploration of the question that plagues too many abused women, "what about the kids". A book about the choices we make and if we'd do it all again, I strongly recommend this one.
Was this review helpful?
I had trouble getting this book to download for some reason, so I am not able to review it! Such a bummer as I was looking forward to it!
Was this review helpful?
I was really taken with the title and cover of this book. “The Devil makes work for idle hands”, is a common expression and I was intrigued by this book and the idea of the puppet master as Satan.

Perdie has finally made the brave decision to pack herself up with her three children and flee her abusive husband. Skip forward and Perdie is married to husband number two, living a settled happy life with all the normal ups and downs.
When two of her children are in a car crash and one of them dies, what will Perdie trade for her the life of her child?
Enter Satan.

This book should have been a lot more enjoyable than it actually was. I found the time skips annoying and I was just constantly waiting for a step up in the storyline which sadly never came.

That’s not to say I hated the story, it just fell a little flat for me. I would be interested in considering other books by the author.

What I did enjoy about this book, was the beginning and the ending. I thought the ending was great actually. I spent the whole second half of the book frustrated at the idea that Satan can just pluck souls back from Heaven’s gates for a quick re-do so that it can try and claim more souls. Surely one that has already passed, should be safe up in heaven if that’s where they are going? So the way that was answered and handled at the end was quite satisfying. The handling of domestic abuse was also quite gripping.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book overall, I found it a little slow to begin with but was glad I persevered. 
I enjoyed how it was written even though I was devastated by the turns the story took, even in the alternate reality where Perdie made a different choice. 
The characters of Perdie and her children were well written and I was rooting for them from the start, I really wanted things to go differently for them. 
Matt was also a well written character too and the build up from creeping dread, to fear, to horror at his behaviour and how Perdie dealt with this made my skin crawl.
Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for my eARC in return for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
What an AMAZING book! 

Perdie is married to Matt and has three children. Unfortunately, Matt is a wife beater. Perdie gets frequently beaten but bears it for her children. Indeed, she is in a major dilemma. Should she stay with Matt and have the financial security that came along in exchange for being beaten or should she leave and be independent but risk spending lesser time with her children as she would have to work to make a living?

Both situations seem so bleak.

When the devil (female, name Ella) offers her a way out, Perdie is already at the end of her tether (Matt has tried to hit her son whom she was desperately trying to protect from the violence). So she grabs the offer from the devil with both hands. But, as it turns out, grass is greener on the other side.

Basically, Idle Hands talks about how our choices can affect our lives irrevocably. I loved how the author has talked about Perdie and her dilemmas at various stages of life interspersed with monologues from the Devil/Ella.

The theme of domestic violence is a major presence through the book, but Windwalker has dealt with it gently. It might yet be triggering from those suffering from abuse so this is a word of warning.

Very good book. Must read!
Was this review helpful?
This is such a great concept! 
I really enjoyed this title and felt the weight of the choices being made. 
Would definitely read again
Was this review helpful?
This book intrigued me with the premise of the "devil" or Ella, as she prefers to be called, as a narrator. I really struggled through the prologue and I was so close to calling it quits but I persevered and I was thoroughly rewarded for my efforts. I didn't quite get Ella's voice at first but then something just clicked and I found myself really enjoying this story.

This is a book about choices. If we chose another path in life would it be one of reward or one of punishment?

Perdie is a victim of domestic abuse. She has been a victim of domestic abuse since her marriage to Matt began. She took solace in the fact that he never harmed her three children. If she took the brunt of his violence then they could all go on pretending to be the perfect family.

Then it happens. Matt takes aim at their son Tad forcing Perdie to hatch a plan for them all to escape.

And she's successful and we witness their new life transform until a tragedy strikes them all down again. Now Perdie questions if she made the right choice. Had she of just stayed with Matt maybe none of this would have ever happened.

Ella hears what Perdie is thinking and provides her the alternate reality. The one in which she did stay with Matt. From here we witness what happens to a family living in fear. How every blow made shatters their souls a little more leaving them as empty shells rather than the vibrant people they should have been. And what happens when finally Enough is Enough? Is this really the better alternative?

"I'm using that term - demon - figuratively, of course. Let's not even get started on that rabbit hole. Suffice it to say that humans don't require a moment's assistance to achieve the lowest levels of evil, certainly not from my people. The only demons walking this earth today are you."

I was completely blown away by the talent of this author. Her use of language is divine. I adored Perdie and her children and I was rooting for them from the start. It's impossible not to. 4 stars!


Thank you to NetGalley and Agora Books for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?