Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Book Review: The Perfect Parents

By Sara Steven

Jackson and Lydia Hemsworth are pillars of the community, feted for having the perfect marriage and three wonderful children – Florence, Jessica and Ezra.

But appearances can be deceptive.

Because behind closed doors Jackson Hemsworth rules his family with cruelty and control. His marriage is a sham; his children for years have cowed in fear.

Until the day that Jackson and Lydia throw themselves off Newport Bridge in a joint suicide pact – the final cruel blow by Jackson to control his wife and torture his adult children.

As the Hemsworth siblings return to their family home, they must try to make sense of their parents’ last act. But there are many dark secrets waiting to be unearthed at Armett House.

Like, why are the townsfolk so suddenly hostile towards them? And who are the strangers who arrive at Armett House unannounced? And why has their mother’s body still not been found?

In the aftermath of their parents’ death, it becomes clear that something terrible is about to be exposed about the Hemsworths’ perfect parents.

A secret they may all wish had stayed hidden…
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

J.A. Baker has a knack for writing psychological thrillers, and The Perfect Parents is no exception. Right from the start, the reader is privy to Jackson and Lydia’s final thoughts before they make their jump from the Newport Bridge, and through their children and the proceeding days after that fateful day, more and more of the truth is exposed. I appreciated that the story is told from various perspectives; not only from the “perfect” parents, but Flo and Jessica, too. 

The style was very reminiscent of the type of gothic novels that were written in the 1800s. The thrill comes from the deep unknown, and Flo and Jessica are often in situations where the reader is quite aware of something sinister lurking, but the primary characters have no clue. There were quite a few twists and turns, too, that would pop up completely unexpectedly. A strong example of this would be the mice that are found within Armett House. There is a ghastly odor in the kitchen, blamed on dead rodents, but is it really the rodents? Or is it something else? I was fairly certain I knew what was going on, but in the end, the truth is nowhere near what I imagined it to be and I was completely, totally wrong–in a good way!

There were a lot of scenarios that occurred like that, which kept the story interesting and intriguing. There were other times, though, where some of the events that were completely unexpected felt a little forced, and I wasn’t sure why the events that occurred happened in the first place–like the story surrounding Ezra. But overall, the mystery outweighed those scenarios, still providing a very scary experience for not just the characters, but for the readers, too.

Aside from the mystery, there are a lot of big changes and revelations that occur for the characters, too. It does a lot to shape them and change their perspectives and motivations as the chapters unfold, which only added to the sleuthing experience. Why is everyone so against the Hemsworth family? And ultimately, what can be done about it? The Perfect Parents is a definite page turner and kept me hooked from start to finish!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links: 
Amazon US * Amazon UK

J. A. Baker is a successful psychological thriller writer of numerous books, previously published by Bloodhound. Born and brought up in Middlesbrough, she still lives in the North East, which inspires the settings for her books. Her first title for Boldwood was published in December 2022.

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