How to Play Dead
by Jacqueline Ward
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Pub Date 7 Nov 2019 | Archive Date 16 Oct 2019
Atlantic Books, Corvus
She's watching over them. And he's watching her...
Ria Taylor is everything to everyone. Wife and mother, the centre of her family. And the manager of a refuge for women whose partners have driven them out of their own homes.
But one night, with her husband away, Ria receives a terrifyingly sinister message. Someone is watching her. Someone who seems to know everything about her. She knows what she should do - seek help, just like she tells her clients to. But Ria is the help. As events escalate, and terror takes hold, Ria must decide whether to run or hide...
'Hugely engrossing - a dark delight' - Catherine Ryan Howard, on PERFECT TEN
'A wildly entertaining and compelling debut' - Daily Mail, on PERFECT TEN 'Fascinating' - Paula Daly, on PERFECT TEN
'Penetratingly sharp on the complexities of psychological abuse and the human heart, this compulsive, disturbing debut will be relished by fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Daly' - Joanne Owen, LoveReading on PERFECT TEN
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 170 members
This was really enjoyable and kept you intrigued right up to the end. The end was really surprising. The characters were interesting and you could really sympathise with them. A really good read, I couldn't put it down. A good book to take on holiday.
The book centres around the lead character, Ria Taylor, a wife, mother and the manager of a refuge for women who have been victims of domestic abuse. Ria has dedicated her life to help and save others from the effects of abuse and violence yet soon finds herself caught in a dangerous game being controlled by an unknown stranger.
To be honest, I’ve struggled with writing a review for this novel, eventually settling on 4 stars. I found the storyline rather predictable and I had guessed the ending pretty much straight away. The ending of the story was rather quick and I feel a massive part of the storyline was not given the detail or ending it deserved.
However (and this is a BIG however), the story being told is one that will stay with me forever and one that every woman should read. As a reader you are irritated by the lack of justice faced by some of the abusers and exasperated by reluctance of the victims to take action. However, you come to realise this is all indicative of real life abuse cases. Ward managed to evoke strong emotions from my usual heart of stone and I almost found myself in tears at one point. The book really delves into the psyche of abusers, and it is evident Ward has a background in psychology and transfers her knowledge and experience to the reader.
The overall message from the book is that “two women per week in England are killed by a partner or ex-partner” and that we must all play our part to reduce this number.
To read a book about something you have been through is tough going. Domestic abuse isn't talked about enough. The anger I felt through this book was unbelievable but the story covers exactly what goes on behind closed doors. This is a story similar to what I went through and it was written really well. The author had me gripped into the story and I could relate to so much of it. The characters were written well and her knowledge on the subject was on point. I would definitely recommend this for awareness. It may just be a story to someone else but things like this happen in real life. Really enjoyed the book
I never repeat the blurb...This was absolutely BRILLIANT, heart wrenching, a real insight into coercive control which is all too late starting to be really talked about and acknowledged. Not an easy read but if you want to know what thousands of women are up against behind closed doors, you'll love it.
What a great book. Full of strong female characters and set against the background of a shelter for abused women. Issues were dealt with sensitively and gave a real insight into how the abuse can be emotional as well as physical.
I stayed up until after midnight hooked by the events in this psychological thriller. Highly recommended.
What can I say? I rushed through this book. It helped that I'm home recovering from an operation but I didn't want to put this book down! Fast-moving, very gripping, really made me think. I really cared about the characters as well. Thank you for letting me read this before it's published in November #NetGalley. Loved it!
How to Play Dead by Jacqueline Ward was an outstanding book.
A difficult topic to cover and some parts were quite traumatic to read but if it makes people more aware about Domestic Abuse then its worth it!
The main character Ria was very likeable and you really felt for her thoughout the story.
Definately a 5 star review as I didnt want to put the book down.
Thanks to Netgalley, Atlantic Books and Corvus for the ARC.
And the NetGalley reviewathon continues! Thank you to @netgalley and the author/publisher for sending me an ARC of this thriller. Before I start my review I'm going to warn potential readers that this can be a triggering book and I certainly found it a difficult read. Strong themes run through this novel of domestic violence, psychological and sexual abuse and victimization. However on the flip side it also highlights the wonder of love, family, strength, charity and survival. I loved the main characters and their backstories, I enjoyed the smaller characters interlaced throughout and watching them find their feet against adversity. I grieved when they grieved and laughed when they laughed. I also felt the horror of their experiences deeply and I think the personality and patterns of abusers was well researched and portrayed. I feel like the ending had the ability to be a lot more explosive, action packed and danger filled but to be honest that's exactly why I loved it. I felt it was a more realistic outcome of what it is to live in today's society and stayed true to the underlying strength of the character involved. However difficult this book was for me to read I actually found it extremely deep with many important messages and a great way to expose what people still suffer in their lives. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/5.
My Synopsis: Ria is known as Superwoman... a dedicated mother of two that runs a domestic violence shelter and rehabilitation centre for victims, children and their spouses. Her husband travels to Dubai for 30 days to earn money for them to buy a house and she struggles while he is gone. She is dedicating her time and her life to her children and the women she helps save, until one day a pay as you go phone is delivered to her and she finds she is being stalked by someone that clearly knows her. Concurrently we find ourselves following the journey of Tanya, who is trapped in her own home under her partner's abusive and oppressive will. We journey alongside these two women while they divulge their pasts and their presents escalate until they become intertwined.
Dark and in places very alarming.
Ria is indeed superwoman, caring for her family, dealing with her husbands forced absence due to work commitments, struggling financially but still putting her work at the womens refuge at the forefront where she can.
Every character in this book, from the downtrodden and threatened women in the shelter (particularly Sally and Sheila) , the overbearing and threatening men who seek to claim them back, the other women working with Ria to help and the vile and corrupt powers that be all provoke intense emotion in the reader, just the way a great character should.
The subject matter is a difficult one and it made me sad and angry at almost every page turn how domestic abuse is still very much a hidden thing, not talked of and not well dealt with by the authorities or the law.
However, this is a great read, sensitively done and with truth to the characters of the abused women, with their reluctance to give up on their men despite everything and their continued excusing of the mens behaviour ringing particularly true with cases that reach the news in the real world.
An enrapturing novel which puts the spotlight on such an important aspect of society - a women's refuge centre. The book is written from the perspective of two seemingly very different characters, and as much as I tried I couldn't figure out the connection until a significant way through! There are plenty of twists and turns which keep the reader on the edge of their seat. It's emotionally raw in places when describing the ordeal of victims of domestic violence, but this makes it all the more unforgettable. A very unique story and an unputdownable plot - any thriller fan would love it.
A slow but emotive burn but with descriptions of both scene and characters brilliantly drawn; I could almost see and touch the various characters! The author brought them alive magnificently. There were two instances which literally had me holding my breath, the first when Shiela broke down whilst watching the children unwrap their X boxes and the second when Ria showed the video - I was literally punching the air at this point! Loved the conclusion - it was so right! An excellent tale with a very deserving end!
I read this in 2 days. It was very well written and a fantastic storyline giving an insight into not only domestic violence, but also the much needed services. I had no idea how these services work, how they’re struggling and just how vital they are. After reading this, it’s encouraged me to donate to my local women’s refuge.
The part that really got to me was where a woman and her children had to sleep in their rain soaked clothes. It really struck a chord and I think this will be the same for others.
Fantastic book, will definitely be recommending.
Today (13/9/2019) the BBC news headline is ‘Domestic Violence murders surged to five-year high’ and so that makes this book all the more relevant. Inevitably, this is not an easy read because of the domestic violence theme and one character is raped but it highlights so clearly the control that perpetrators exert over their partners and their children and it is very chilling. The story is told from the perspective of Ria Taylor who runs a domestic abuse charity called SafeMe and via a diary from an abuse victim called Tanya. I think the diary is the most effective part of the book and her partner Alan is utterly evil and that is demonstrated all too clearly. Ria’s story seems to follow a more predictable path and there are sections that I think are not relevant and detract from the storyline. The most enlightening sections in Ria’s story are in the interactions with her mother when we learn a lot about her father and how Ria becomes involved with SafeMe. It is unclear for much of the book how the two stories connect and until that is revealed I felt some confusion and from then on it perhaps it becomes a bit predictable and I think the end is too neatly tied up in a bow.
The theme of the book means of course, that a lot of the characters are not just unlikeable but you hate them and their actions. The female characters shine through the story and some are able to leave the abuse behind and live a life without fear, though some like the lovely Sheila go back to their abuser. The book is clearly well researched but my struggle is with a star rating because there are parts of the book I didn’t engage with and which I feel hold up the pace. I’ve been unsure between 3 and 4 stars but I’ve settled for 4 as the book has such a relevant story to tell in the light of recent statistics with 173 people killed in domestic violence related homicides in 2018 in the UK. It’s not a comfortable read but I think it helps with our understanding of this terrible situation.
This was a really good , emotional read . It took me a while to get into it but that was purely down to having not much time . Once I was a few chapters in I could not put it down . Ria works in a refuge for victims of domestic abuse , whilst her husband is working away she starts getting harassing text messages , someone who wants to do her harm . With a lot of the women at the shelters husbands being in the frame , we find that its something a lot more personal . Ria really feels that her and her family are in danger and you can almost feel it closing in with every turn of the page . It was very emotional and the domestic abuse was believable and shocking as well as being a really well written thriller . 5 stars from me
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