Six years ago Maddie ran away from her abusive husband. Taking her children she moved from Melbourne to a small country town, changed their names and began to build a new life.
She was wrong!
He found them. He has taken the children.....and he's going to make Maddie pay!
Sticks & Stones sounds like a suspense thriller but it's not. Ilsa Evans has avoided the dramatics and told Maddies' story in a way that is so real and believable that it becomes more chilling than any thriller. From the first few pages I could feel the fear that Maddie had learnt to live with, the constant vigilance and dread that one day Jake would find them. Then he does and Maddie has to face the court and counter the charges Jake brings against her which not only means raking up all the bad memories but also attempting to make people believe her account of events that shame and pride had previously made her keep hidden.
I really felt Maddie's sense of being completely alone. Men like Jake are very clever and wear friendly and likeable public faces so that even when Maddie tries to get her best friend to understand the response is..
" I'm sorry, Maddie, I really am, but I just can't get my head around that poor guy not seeing his kids for six years. Six years!"And early on I had moments of feeling that too because the author tells the story so that the point of view of everyone involved is given including Jake, Maddie's family, and her children who in six years have reached the early teens and have a natural desire to know their Dad.
Sticks & Stones makes harrowing reading but I thought it was very good and very well written. It is the sequel to an earlier book called Broken which I haven't read but I didn't feel as though that made too much of a difference. An Australian author new to me Ilsa Evans has written several other books which I'll be looking out for.
Aussie Author Challenge