On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning standalone novel by Will Dean, The Last Thing To Burn.
He is her husband. She is his captive.
Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.
She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.
Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.
For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .
The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021. Will Dean has become one of my favourite writers recently, and I bump every book he writes to the top of my TBR pile. I started reading it a day after it arrived in the post and I had it finished two days later. It is a powerful, heart-breaking read; my heart was in my mouth the entire way through. This book should be on everyone’s TBR pile.
This book was almost unbearably tense in places. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters, especially, Jane, who I really felt for, but I almost couldn’t bear to find out. Will Dean explores human trafficking in his latest, but first standalone novel, and he portrays a vivid portrayal of what victims of human trafficking go through on a day to day basis. Jane feels as though her past is slowly being eroded away. She came to the UK with the hope of living a better life. Of course, this didn’t happen. She is now living with Lenn, her captor, who is one of the most despicable characters I’ve come across in crime fiction. I don’t think I’ve ever longed for something terrible to happen to a character so badly.
Jane is the real star of this book. She grows as a character from the very first page, and I was rooting for her from the very beginning. She is very careful; she knows what will antagonise her captor, and she tries her best to please him. Jane isn’t allowed to leave the house, and Lenn has her under constant surveillance which put me on edge as I was reading it. I felt very fearful for Jane, but at the same time, I wanted to take the risk and try to escape. I admired her so much; she is such a strong lead. She is not willing to forget her past and her family, which is something that Lenn would like her to do. The one link she has to her family is the letters she has from her sister; it is the only form of contact with the outside world she has.
It is horrifying to think that this goes on in the world, even especially at home, here in the UK. I think many people believe that this is something that happens in other countries and not in their own. This book highlights that these crimes can happen anywhere, perhaps even in your own neighbourhood. It made me so angry to think that people like Lenn exist in the world. This is what makes this book a very powerful read as well, and I’m sure it’ll be staying with me for a long time to come.
The Last Thing To Burn is a haunting, chilling read. You will find yourself totally gripped and immersed in the character’s lives. I really struggled to put this book down. Highly, highly recommended!
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 7th January 2021
Print length: 256 pages
The Last Thing To Burn is available to buy: