Book Review | The Last Thing to Burn

My first book of the year and since this is a 2021 release it means it also qualifies as the first book toward my Popsugar reading challenge.

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting …

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The Last Thing To Burn will be published on 7th January 2021

I have not read any of Will Dean’s books before but I had heard great things about his writing, so I was keen to read this book when it popped up on my radar. I have to say I think this is the first book in quite a while that I have managed to read in one day, I was really surprised because reading hasn’t been as easy for me recently but as soon as I picked this book up I was loath to put it down.

The fact that I found it so consuming was also a little unexpected because it is not an easy story, it is dark and at times almost feels unbearable, especially the more we get to know Jane, but even when I felt desolate about Jane’s circumstances and situations in the book became more desperate I was entirely transfixed by it, I felt like there was always a glimmer of hope hiding just out of sight.

There is something amazing about Will Dean’s writing, he manages to conjure his bleak setting effortlessly, I have never visited the area of England that the book is set in but I can visualise it and Lenn’s isolated farm so easily in my mind just through his words, I honestly felt as if I could feel the cold of the house and smell the damp the more I read. It is also able to keep a pervasive sense of dread throughout the story and captures a horrific situation without sensation, it reveals itself in a slow and subtle way that gave a chillingly realistic portrayal of trafficking and abuse.

Jane is an exceptional character, her strength and will to survive given the cruelty and degradation she has to live with is what makes the book so compelling. It is very easy to become emotionally linked with Jane and feel like you are right there with her, I don’t want to say too much because a lot of this book needs to be experienced as you read it, but the heartbreak as she lost parts of her identity was palpable. However there does come a point when she starts to slowly reclaim little parts of herself and it does give you the belief that things could get better.

I feel like I haven’t said enough to tell you how amazing The Last Thing to Burn is but I don’t want to say too much because this is a journey that you need to take with Jane. What I will say though is that the writing is amazing, the story is at the same time hideous and magnificent, and you will feel a range of emotions going through this story with the characters.

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