book review

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Publisher: Fig Tree, Penguin

Pub date: 28 Jan 2021

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother’s secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.


I found this novel incredibly difficult to read, and considered giving up on it multiple times. To be honest, the only reason I kept reading it was because I don’t like not knowing how things turn out in books with mysteries – but even the ‘reveals’ were disappointing and anticlimactic, and they weren’t worth hanging around for.

There was nothing much wrong with Claire Fuller’s writing, but I found the book really difficult to sink into. It felt cold and distant, and I struggled to connect to any of the characters. On top of this, I was never really hooked by anything that was happening – mostly because, for the majority of the novel, nothing really was happening. The ‘twists’ were easy to work out, but they weren’t even really that interesting.

This book lacks charm and it feels so incredibly bleak. Maybe this is my fault, and I just wasn’t in the right headspace at the time, but there was no contrast to the bleakness. There was never really a moment of fun or light-heartedness to balance out the intense feeling of bleakness throughout the novel.

The reason I haven’t given this one star is that I thought Claire Fuller’s writing was the best thing about the novel – her writing could be beautiful at times, but the story didn’t capture me. This one is not for me, but I feel like someone else out there might appreciate it, especially if you are already a fan of her novels.

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