Saturday 21 September 2019

Book review : The Slaughter Man - Cassandra Parkin

Cassandra Parkin is a name I have come to know through reading her previous novels, including The Winter's Child and Lily's House (click through to read my reviews). In both of these books, the narrator has a painfully intense relationship with a family member and this is continued in her latest novel, The Slaughter Man.

The central character of the novel, seventeen-year-old Willow, is having a hard time. Her identical twin Laurel has just died and one of the symptoms of her grief is that she has lost the ability to speak. Her parents are doing everything they can to support her, but, following a visit from her uncle Joe, she heads into the countryside with him to spend a few months in his cottage.

She has her own room with its own independent entrance, which gives her great freedom of movement - not always a good thing, as she sleepwalks at night. Her dreams take her, literally and figuratively, into unknown places which allow her to work through her intense feelings of dealing with "life after Laurel". Her twin often puts in an appearance and seems to want Willow to commit suicide, but is this really a dream or Willow's own inner torment?

In a nearby farmhouse lives Katherine, a no-nonsense farmer who is friendly with Joe. She is looking after a boy called Luca, almost the same age as Willow, and the pair form an instant friendship. Will he be good for Willow though or does he have his own dark secrets? And what about the sinister slaughter man who lives in a log cabin in the nearby woods?

It's a tense read, in which almost everybody seems to be suffering in silence - not just Willow but Luca, her uncle and her parents. When suffering with grief or other emotional issues, people are always encouraged to talk and share their pain, but sometimes, it would appear, listening to others can be just as effective. The book ends with the idea that things will soon be better, but nobody actually has a final solution - just a sense of hope. Having gone through our own experience of grief when Madhouse Daddy died, I wasn't sure how I would feel about reading this book, but it is actually reassuring and life-affirming, suggesting that even when pain is at its very worst, you will eventually come out of the other side and find a sense of peace. I just wanted to give all of the characters - Willow, Luca, Joe, the parents - a great big hug at the end of the book and share in their tentative desire to look towards a new beginning.

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (16 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1789550572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1789550573
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to share my honest review.


  1. I found it an intense read as well. I'm still collecting my thoughts on the book. It's another unsettling, thought-provoking novel from Parkin.


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