*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Sylvia Blackwell is tired. Her grandchildren are being kept away from her, and the expected inheritance that might finally get her middle-aged son to move out has failed to materialise – thanks to her mother’s cat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain composed. On a romantic clifftop walk for her 47th Wedding Anniversary, an unexpected opportunity leads to a momentous decision that will irretrievably change the course of her life. The Craft Room is a darkly comic tale of sex, crepe paper, murder and knitting in a sleepy Devon town, with a ‘truly original’ premise and genuinely jaw-dropping moments. What would you do if unexpectedly freed from bondage you never knew you were in? How would your children cope? How far would you go to protect them from an uncomfortable truth? You can only push a grandmother so far…
Dave Holwill manages to combine Hyacinth Bucket with The Purge in The Craft Room, which is a chillingly funny look at a post mid-life crisis from a woman who has a lifetime’s worth of suppressed anger to take out on everyone around her.
In theory the build-up to murder is quite slow and consists of a slippery slope of opportunities to edge from acceptance to acquiescence to outright action. In reality we can see from Sylvia’s inner monologue from the very first paragraph that she is no stranger to the idea of visiting casual violence on those who annoy her!
I was reminded of the elderly aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace, but unlike those well-meaning old dears Sylvia simmers her way through a metamorphosis from dowdy old mum to femme fatale with barely a glimmer of conscience. She also remains a most unlikable and unsympathetic character from beginning to end (especially if you happen to be a cat lover!).
Most of the other characters also begin as unlikable, for example, Robert the wet-lettuce son, and Ron, the ungrateful bully. However, unlike Sylvia, many of the main characters grew on me as the plot progressed and they developed, and by the end I was definitely rooting for happy endings for a certain couple and a couple of amiable cops. Unfortunately they all had Sylvia to deal with first, and that crafty granny has a few tricks (and possibly knives) up her sleeve!
I really enjoyed this light-hearted murder romp and would recommend it to anyone looking for a giggle on the dark side.
Sylvia hadn’t meant to kill Bitey. If he had listened to her about sleeping under the car, then she wouldn’t have run him over, and would still have to put up with his incessant meowing and scratching at her bedroom door. And all the biting of course, sneaking up on her ankles when he felt starved of attention. But nobody ever listened to Sylvia – not even the cat.
– Dave Holwill, The Craft Room
The Craft Room is available to buy on Amazon right now, and don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for more spotlights and reviews!