Title: The Stepmother
Author: Claire Seeber
Release date: July 15th 2016
The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…
Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.
No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.
And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.
But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.
Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.
After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending … doesn’t it?
If there is a controversial role in any modern family, it is the stepmother’s. Often portrayed at the terrible and despicable woman whose only goal is to get rid of the kids that aren’t hers by any available means, she gets the blame for everything that goes wrong in a blended family. But what if the stepmother is not the problem?
Only ever half of the story: that’s what we get. Half the story. Half a picture. Half an idea of what, say, a marriage is actually like behind closed doors.
We meet Jeanie as she is about to settle into her new life. A new roof over her head, a new name, a new man in her bed, and two new children to take care of. A fresh start is a happy stage in life, isn’t it? But a new beginning does not erase the history, and she brings more than suitcases and a son to her home. We are told from the beginning that Jeanie is hiding a secret, so dark that she has not told Matthew, her new husband. If at first the snippets of information we got from her previous life intrigued me, her denial and refusal to have a proper talk about it with the man she married ended up irking me. She could have avoided a lot of trouble if she had mustered the courage to come clean.
Prince Charming’s a stupid old fantasy, though, isn’t he? He doesn’t exist. You only need to look at the divorce statistics to know that.
Despite her flaws, Jeanie could be considered a good stepmother. Living in a house that was chosen for a previous life requires patience and understanding, and I am not sure I would have been comfortable settling in another woman’s home! I felt bad for Jeanie as she tries to find a balance with her husband. As the image of perfection created by love shatters, she realizes Matthew is only a man, with his flaws and a -heavy- background. She does try her best to smooth the edges and get to know her husband’s twins. Experience taught me it is uncommon enough to underline! I went through four stepmothers, and none showed half of Jeanie’s kindness.
Unfortunately, kindness and willpower are not enough to create a peaceful and loving blended family, and the clouds of secrets soon come hovering over the house. Incidents start happening and Jeanie slowly learns that secrets are toxic. Way too toxic.
Cos what I’d also say is this: family, they’ll either make you, or they’ll break you.
I really enjoyed Claire Seeber’s Gothic tone combined with the chilling events, which ratcheted up the tension up to the 80% mark. From there, a twist forces the narrative to take a different perspective, leaving the ending a little flat and rushed. The story is divided between two narrators from the start, Jeanie and her sister Marlene, but I could not get involved in Marlene’s journalistic story and I was a little disappointed there was no link whatsoever with the events in Jeanie’s life.
Overall, I had a great time throughout most of the story but the last chapters left me deflated. Claire’s writing gives another twist to the stepmother tale and a frightening take on the scars left by a divorce.
I would like to thank Bookouture and Claire Seeber for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Stepmother is available on Amazon