Review: Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse
If you were asked to describe a serial killer, you probably wouldn’t describe Rhiannon. That’s how she keeps managing to get away with murder.
We meet Rhiannon on New Year’s Eve, mere hours before she chops a guy’s penis off for sexually propositioning her. That’s one way to stick it to the man! But this isn’t the first time she’s killed, and as her boyfriend Craig embarks on a passionate affair with Lana from her office, Rhiannon’s murdering spree quickly spirals out of control…
Despite being a ruthless killer, I really liked Rhiannon as a character for the majority of the novel. She has a moral code when it comes to killing, quite similar to Dexter – if a man attempts to sexually assault her, she murders them. She’s defending the defenceless, making the streets safer for the weak and unprepared women that would normally become their prey.
But as the novel progresses Rhiannon becomes more and more unhinged, and soon her morals are going out of the window. She tries to give up killing – really, she does – but before she knows it she’s killing indiscriminately, getting rid of anyone who dares cross her path. At that point I raised an eyebrow and took three steps back, and my enjoyment of the novel rapidly declined. Whereas to start with she had motivation that led to her killing, by the end of the novel thinks had unravelled to the point that the story was almost unrecognisable from where it had started.
That might have been the point – to show that killers are not often in control – but it made the character development seem insincere. There was one murder in particular that was unnecessary, so I have a sneaking suspicion that it might have been included to build hype for the sequel, In Bloom (which is being released next week).
However, the majority of the novel was enjoyable and highly entertaining. Rhiannon’s acerbic wit – particularly at the start of the story – had me laughing out loud. My boyfriend and I were reading this story together before bed, and Rhiannon’s crass commentary on her so-called ‘nearest and dearest’ even had him snickering. It certainly made me want to go to bed earlier so that we could finish the story, and I’m a quintessential night owl! The middle of the story was less impactful – the wittiness deteriorated while the pace slowed to a crawl – but as the story is told through diary entries it didn’t have the chance to drag too terribly.
For a first foray into adult fiction, C.J. Skuse has done a wonderful job at leaving her young adult roots far behind her. I’m not head over heels for this story, but I’m interested enough that I’m definitely going to give the sequel a chance.
If you’re interested in learning more about Sweetpea, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!