KING OF RABBITS By Karla Neblett (Heinemann £14.99, 336 pp)


By Karla Neblett (Heinemann £14.99, 336 pp)

Kai grows up on a Somerset council estate with his parents and three sisters, each of whom have different fathers. 

His mother and father are crack addicts and their home life is fractured and unsettled.

Kai worships his dad, a small-time thief, but finds a more peaceful world with Saffie, a school friend, with whom he shares his love of rabbits and nature.

Despite having his Nanny Sheila and his oldest sister looking out for him, Kai drifts inexorably towards a tragedy. 

Told from Kai’s perspectives when aged five and 15, the story is meticulously observed and beautifully told.  

The sections of Kai as a child are particularly affecting.

All the characters are vividly brought to life while the passages of natural description are authentic. A touching, witty yet tragic novel that asks whether a child can overcome his circumstances.


By Susan Spindler (Virago £14.99, 384 pp)

Lauren and Dan have suffered countless miscarriages. After the most recent there seems no hope of them having a child until Lauren’s mother, Ruth — a healthy 54-year-old — volunteers to be a surrogate for them.

Just one thing — she keeps the arrangement secret from her unsuspecting husband. 

As the pregnancy progresses, the family is forced to confront their demons as what initially seems an act of selflessness may, in fact, be an act of unspeakable selfishness.

This novel kept me reading late into the night, unable to stop while dreading what would come next. 

A keen examination of mother-daughter relationships and a riveting journey of self-discovery has been crafted into a propulsive and compulsive read.

CUNNING WOMEN By Elizabeth Lee (Windmill £14.99, 384 pp)


By Elizabeth Lee (Windmill £14.99, 384 pp)

It’s 1620. On the edge of a Lancashire hamlet abandoned during the Plague lives the Haworth family — a mother and her three children. 

By day, they’re shunned by the villagers but, at night, they’re visited for their curative powers and balms and known as ‘cunning women’.

When the eldest daughter, Sarah, comes by Daniel, a young villager taming a wild horse, the two of them fall for one another. 

A marriage between them will not be tolerated, but Daniel comes up with a plan.

This powerful story of forbidden love takes place during a time of persecution after the Pendle witch trials of 1612. At its heart is a wild young woman searching for what life can offer.

A little slow out of the gate perhaps, but this develops into a tense and atmospheric ride towards the final terrible twist.

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