Book Reviews

The Killing Jar – A Review


In her stunning debut, Nicola Monaghan lays bare the gritty underbelly of life in Nottingham, England.

Very early on, Kerrie-Ann begins to dream of the world beyond the rough council estate where she lives. Her father is nowhere to be found, her mother is a junkie, and she is left to care for her little brother. Clever, brave, and frighteningly independent, Kerrie-Ann has an unbreakable will to survive. She befriends her eccentric, elderly neighbor, who teaches her about butterflies, the Amazon, and life outside of her tough neighborhood. But even as Kerrie-Ann dreams of a better life she becomes further entangled in the cycles of violence and drugs that rule the estate.

Brilliant, brutal, and tender, The Killing Jar introduces a brave new voice in fiction. Nicola Monaghan’s devastating prose tells an unforgettable story of violence, love, and hope.

I picked this book up at one of my trips to the library. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, this is one of the books that I piled into one of my bags I paid a whopping $1 for. Which makes the fact that it was such an amazing read all the more sweet.

I feel blessed these past couple months to have finally extended my list of favorite books from one book to three books:

  1. The Valley of the Dolls – this is THE BOOK for me. It’s that one book I could read a million times and never grow tired of it. I adore this book.
  2. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife – this is a book I received an e-copy of in exchange for review. I have been plugging this book as OFTEN AS I CAN because I am just THAT passionate about this book. It was so amazing, and it deserves so much attention that I just have this undying desire to help it attain it’s rightful fame.
  3. The Killing Jar – Yup. That’s right. It’s made my list. I adored this book and you are about to find out why.

If you want to read my review of “The Book of the Unnamed Midwife” check that out here. Don’t forget, it’s available for pre-order now on Amazon. If you decide to give it a go, you can purchase it here. It’s free for kindle if you have “kindleunlimited”. If you read it and fall in love with it, like me, you can even follow the author on WordPress! WHAT!? Check out Meg Elison here

Okay, this book. Where do I even begin? Well, if you read my blog then you know that I say this for every review. I am a character driven reader. I need characters that are so developed and so well written that I feel like they are an old childhood friend. I need that relationship with the characters in order to love a book.

Well, Nicola Monaghan, hats off to you. You did such an amazing job with Kerrie-Ann. Within reading just pages in, I wanted to hug her and protect her as her five year old self. Then, as she grew, I wanted to walk beside her and try to steer her away from the inevitable trouble she would find herself in. I adored her. Her life was no walk in the park, but she took it all in stride and adapted the best she could. I sincerely, and wholeheartedly admire your ability to create a character.

I honestly have nothing but praise for this author’s writing abilities. Not only was she able to create amazing characters but she is also amazing at using her words to paint such a vivid and clear picture for the reader. I could see Kerrie-Ann. I could see the neighborhood she grew up in. I could picture the roads as she walked down them. I could see vividly the people she encountered. Honestly, the book played out like a movie in my minds eye. My imagination ran wild with imagery with this novel. It was crisp and clean, I could see and sense my surroundings, just as Kerrie-Ann did, page by page. It was truly a pleasure to read.

This book faces tough issues. Drugs, poverty, violence, and loss. It’s brutal, honest, and just such an accurate depiction of what so many people live through in today’s world where drugs have kidnapped our society and destroyed so many lives. That’s not to say the entire book is about drug culture, it’s not. It’s about Kerrie-Ann and how she’s born into that life of drug culture. It’s about how she takes what she’s given and does what she has to do to survive. The story isn’t exaggerated or unbelievable. Its so real that I felt like I could have been reading about this little girl’s life in the newspaper, or watching her life’s story being played out on the most highly anticipated documentary of the year.

I always try to include one “criticism” in my reviews. Though, I can hardly call this a criticism. The book is written by an English author, and is written exactly as Kerrie-Ann’s accent would sound. Which made it hard to follow at first, being an American. I couldn’t figure out some of the words and what they were supposed to be if that makes sense. However, as the book went on that became less of a problem and more of what made the novel so personal and endearing to me. By the end of it, I couldn’t have imagined it being written any other way. I felt like I was reading her journal. It added a personal touch that brought me even closer to the characters and the surroundings. So, I guess it’s not much of a criticism at all. It’s just a heads up of sorts, that you may stumble over the language at first, but before long you will grow to love it as part of what makes the novel so amazing.

So, who would I recommend this novel to? Honestly? ANYONE! I can’t imagine that anyone would find this book not enjoyable. I can’t think of another time I’ve ever said that, to be honest. Even with MY favorite book of ALL time “The Valley of the Dolls”, I would say you have to be okay with some romance to enjoy it. With this book, however, I can honestly recommend it to anyone. Man or woman, old or young, it doesn’t matter. I think, if you pick up this novel, you are going to fall in love.

***If you want to purchase any of these books simply click on the book cover photos above. All links will direct you to The Book Depository or Amazon.***

The Book Depository offers free worldwide shipping.

Paperback Swap:

Have you heard of PaperBackSwap? It’s this amazing website where you can post your physical books that you no longer want, and other people can take them off your hands! In exchange for sending off your old books, you receive credits and are able to snag books for FREE! IF you join, could you do me a solid and type in my e-mail ( ) in the referral spot? That would be FABULOUS!

Bonus Author Goodies:

Nicola Monaghan on Facebook

Nicola Monaghan on GoodReads

Nicola Monaghan’s Website/Blog (on WORDPRESS! what!?)

Want to discuss more books?

Come find your tribe of like minded book hoarders at Bibliophiles Anonymous (Book Club) on Facebook.

Like my page A Confessed Bibliophile on Facebook for more book fun.

Follow me on GoodReads to see what I’m reading or my future TBR lists.

Discount Online Books:

The Book Outlet

Thrift Books


2 thoughts on “The Killing Jar – A Review

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