Page Count 256
Publication date January 2021
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
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 ..
I requested this ARC after hearing great things from two respected authors.
Oh my, it is a harrowing experience! I read the book over two days but felt as though I’d lived a year in ‘Jane’s sandals by the time I’d finished.
Dean’s writing captures the atmosphere perfectly, the impoverished, cold, captivity pours out of the pages. I found myself feeling Jane’s relief each time Lenn showed her the tiniest scrap of mercy.
Dean employs Jane’s repetition of certain phrases throughout The Last Thing To Burn to remind the reader how hard she is working to hold on to her own identity and sanity.
MY NAME IS NOT JANE.
Lenn is super creepy, a hideous parody of an English farm hand from the 70s, as if his land had frozen in time whilst the rest of the world moved on. All the recognisable brands Dean referenced and the familiar grammar patterns of the English countryside heightened my discomfort.
Having enjoyed Arctic Roll bought from the Spar shop as a young girl with my loving family, reading the same action through the eyes of a rapist kidnapper gave me serious jeebies!
I also like that we didn’t get an over-explanation of how and why Lenn came to be. The antagonist is always better when they are awful without in depth reason, you can glean enough from this story but it isn’t force fed.
The reader is kept on their toes whilst Jane leads us through the mundane inescapable household rituals Lenn enforces day after day, only for Dean to throw shocking events and twists at you just when you think you’ve settled in.
Written in first person from Jane’s perspective the tension is constant. When Jane doesn’t know what Lenn is up to neither do we!
I held my breath far too often whilst reading The Last Thing To Burn, I think you will too.