ARC REVIEW: On My Life by Angela Clarke

On My LifeTitle: On My Life by Angela Clarke
Pages: 384
Published by: Mulholland Books
Publication date: 11th July 2019
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Amazon UK Waterstones

Synopsis:

Framed. Imprisoned. Pregnant.

Jenna thought she had the perfect life: a loving fiancé, a great job, a beautiful home. Then she finds her stepdaughter murdered; her partner missing.

And the police think she did it…

Locked up to await trial, surrounded by prisoners who’d hurt her if they knew what she’s accused of, certain someone close to her has framed her, Jenna knows what she needs to do:

Clear her name
Save her baby
Find the killer

But can she do it in time?

My review:

A huge thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Angela Clarke’s atmospheric thriller, On My Life, is a terrifying and addicting story that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. Jenna seems to have the perfect life but it all comes crashing down around her when she finds her stepdaughter murdered and her fiancé missing. Locked up for a crime she didn’t commit and with an unborn child to protect, Jenna must find out who really killed her stepdaughter and why but the clock is ticking…

Angela chose such a corker of an opening for this story! It immediately starts with Jenna being dragged from the courtroom and escorted to a prison van. As soon as she is outside a massive crowd swarms her, hurls abuse at her and takes photos of her. It was so shocking and terrifiying; it made me feel so claustrophobic just imagining myself in Jenna’s place. It really set the scene for what was to come.

Alternating between the past and the present, Angela paints you a picture of what Jenna’s life was like growing up with her mother and sister and then her relationship with Robert. There was some really sweet scenes and mixing it up with the prison atmosphere was so chilling. It was so unsettling reading about a picnic in a field one minute to a dark and depressing prison cell the next. However Jenna’s life with Robert was far from perfect and behind the scenes there’s some characters who have plenty of motive to kill Robert and his daughter. But who is really capable of going through with it?

My favourite part about On My Life was the setting and the atmosphere. The majority of the story is set in prison and Angela did such a fantastic job describing the bleak and depressive atmosphere. Just imagining being in that prison, or any prison, left me feeling depressed and terrified. I can’t even imagine myself surviving a day in that horrific place and Jenna faces a life sentence plus having her baby taken away from her. Alongside the atmosphere, the author describes the daily activities inmates can do and that includes working for credit in order to get access to certain items/benefits.

There was also minor characters who Jenna was introduced to in prison and she started off on friendly terms with them but that quickly turned sour once they all started banding together. I thought the author did a great job showing how quickly the atmosphere in a prison can change once an alpha type character is amongst them. An infamous inmate had no trouble starting a gang and recruiting whoever she wanted which left everyone else vulnerable. I was horrified to see how prisoners treated one another starting with verbal abuse and quickly escalating to physical. Then there’s the way prisoners are treated by the staff, especially the men. It was disgusting and so inappropriate; I was horrified that it was accepted as the norm. I thought Angela did a fantastic job capturing the reality of prison life.

Another part of this book that I really enjoyed was how much light Angela shed on pregnant women in prison. I really must applaud for this because I had no idea what it was like for then. Angela goes into so much detail about how much pregnant women go through in prison and how when they have their baby taken from them, they aren’t given the appropriate support and are just left alone. It was so devastating reading about it and then there was the trips to the hospital for scans. I really felt Jenna’s humiliation about being escorted to hospital in handcuffs. It also reminded me of how quick we are to judge everyone considering Angela was innocent but people still gave her looks and just assumed she was guilty when in reality they had no idea what she’d been through. This story was completely terrifying to begin with but then making the main character pregnant… Angela really stepped it up a notch!

Halfway through I honestly had no idea how Jenna would prove she was innocent as she only has access to the information provided by her lawyer. Needless to say, it had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it all played out. I had all these different endings in my head and I was completely floored by the actual ending. The author dropped a massive bombshell and I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming. I was so impressed that Angela was able to keep me in the dark the whole way through. I loved this story so much! It’s a chilling and incredibly tense atmospheric thriller that will have you hooked from start to finish.

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