ThE Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

As a young child Kerrie-Ann Hill makes friends with her rather bizarre neighbour who has some unusual and yet life -changing lessons to teach her.

Mrs Ivanovich collects butterflies and carefully shows Kerrie-Ann how to collect, look after and even kill the winged creatures.

But more than that, Mrs Ivanovich teaches Kerrie-Ann about life, freedom and, of course, death.

Living on a rough estate in Nottingham with her heroin addict mother, Kerrie-Ann has never known her father but is constantly introduced to a series of uncles - one of whom sends her out to sell drugs at the tender age of ten.

The Killing Jar serves as a chilling warning about how easily a life can spiral out of control in the blink of an eye, but at the same time it is truly awe inspiring to watch Kerrie-Ann snatch it right back again with both hands.

At times this book left me horrified, particularly the scenes of violence, which disturbed me in a way that a film could never have done, Surprisingly this is Nicola Monaghan's inaugural novel but, by beautifully translating the reality of her childhood council estate existence onto the page with such remarkable grace and dexterity, she has somehow managed to capture the compassion of a far more experienced author.

This is not one for the faint-hearted but I would definitely recommend it.

Lydia Hayward

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