Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Home, the brand new book from Sarah Stovell. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part. I'm delighted to have an excerpt from The Home to share, which you can find after the book information below.
A dark and emotive thriller which shines a light on the troubling issue of children in care, The Home marks the return of Sarah Stovell, author of the 2017 international bestseller Exquisite.
When the body of pregnant, fifteen-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away.
As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.
A dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking and insightful portrayal of the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.
The Home was published as an eBook on 28th November 2019 by Orenda Books. The paperback version will be released on the 22nd of this month. You can buy or pre order your copy from the publisher (eBook only), Waterstones (paperback only), Amazon and all good booksellers.
This isn’t a proper interview room, not like the ones you see on TV, with hard chairs and no windows and mean-faced coppers. This is a room designed especially for people like me: young suspects they don’t want to frighten. They’ve put sofas in here and plants, and a rug and a small table with mats to rest your drinks. You can see it’s meant to be comfortable, and they’ve even got women officers to interview me so I don’t get too agitated. Non-threatening. That’s the sort of word they’d use to describe it, but it’s actually bollocks. They want to put you at ease and make you talk, but there’s nothing more threatening than a room designed to be non-threatening so you’ll be tricked into saying too much and getting arrested. Sinister, that’s what I’d call it. Sinister as hell.
The whole day has been a blur. All I know is that she’s dead. My girl is dead, and they forced me away from her. Then they brought me here, where they gave me tea made with crappy teabags, as if that would be enough to calm me down and make me talk.
We’ve been at it for hours.
‘Please tell us your name.’
‘It’s none of your business what my name is.’
‘We are the police and we found you beside the body of a young girl. It is every bit our business what your name is.’
‘Blah, blah, blah.’
That annoyed them.
I can tell they’re drawing on every bit of their patience. They’re going to need it.
‘We need to talk to you,’ one says. ‘When you’re ready, we’ll have to ask you what happened and who the girl is, so we can let her family know.’
I stay silent. They’d found no ID on her body. Nothing at all. All they know is that she was young and blonde and she doesn’t match any of the missing persons on file. They don’t even know she’s pregnant. I suppose the whole future of this case relies on me now, but I’m in no fit state to co-operate. Look at me, I want to say to them. I’m insane with grief.
‘Was the girl who died a relative of yours?’
I shake my head.
‘A good friend, then?’
Again, I shake my head.
The officers stop the questions and hand me more tissues. My face must be a mess. They see my tears as suspicious, I can tell. I’m meant to be hollowed-out and silent with shock.
After a while, they try again. ‘We understand your distress,’ one of them says.
I want to shout at her. No, you don’t. You haven’t got a clue. She’s dead and I am here, and I don’t know how I’ll ever bear this.
But I don’t say it, so she carries on. ‘But it’s really important we find out who this girl is. Her family will be worrying and we need to tell them the truth as soon as we can.’
I don’t know what comes over me then. It’s like I’ve left my body and I’m watching myself from somewhere above the spot where I’m sitting. I look straight at the two of them. ‘Fuck off,’ I’m spitting. ‘Just fuck off. She hasn’t got any fucking family.’ Then I hold out my hands as if I’m reading a book and recite, ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. No one gives a shit about the end of you.’
With no warning, her voice suddenly fills the room. What about you? she asks. Do you give a shit? Are you sorry?
I look around at the police officers to see if they’ve heard it, too, as clearly as I just did. They don’t seem to have. They’re sitting there, sympathetic but tough, ready to charge me with bad behaviour.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. It should never have come to this.
Wow, how good does that sound? So intriguing! Really looking forward to getting stuck into this one.
Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.