How far would you go for revenge on your ex?

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable. Something that puts her in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

Sticks and Stones is a deliciously twisting psychological thriller from an exciting new voice.

“Sticks and Stones” begins with main character Imogen attending the funeral of her soon to be ex-husband, Police Officer Phillip Rochester. Also attending the funeral are Ruby – Phillip’s first wife, and Naomi, the woman he left Imogen for. Quite a tasty little set up for a psychological thriller.

Immediately afterwards, we are catapulted back to just over three weeks earlier where we start to unravel the events leading up to this day, and how they came to pass. It soon becomes apparent that Phillip is not a nice man, and an even worse husband. We discover that he is controlling, self obsessed and cruel and that holding a position of power as a policeman has worked well for him – Imogen reporting him for abuse has brought no consequences home for him whatsoever as his colleagues believe his account of events – and with this protection, along with some clever, insidious controlling techniques he has systematically abused each of these women and lived to tell the tale unscathed…at least so far.

The three woman – Ruby, Imogen and Naomi are fairly complex characters and complement each other while also having striking differences. The one thing they all have in common, however, is that they are strong women who have had their spirit broken at one time or another by this bully that came into each of their lives in the guise of a loving partner.

There were some situations that I felt were unrealistic and a bit over the top, especially towards the end, but overall I enjoyed this book. You never know who to trust and there are a couple of times I really wanted to facepalm when Phillip draws in one of the women and gets him doing his bidding, despite precarious circumstances. Jo Jakeman has provided us with a gripping, whirlwind of a read, with strong female characters breaking through a cycle of violence that has threatened to overcome them – a great debut.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

3.5 stars (rounded up to 4)