18 May 2015

Review: The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan

The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan

Published: 3 April 2007

Pages: 288

Genre/s: Adult, Contemporary

Source: Own library

Find It: Goodreads ~ Amazon


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.

My Thoughts

The Killing Jar is dark, gritty, and at times very confronting. When you have a main character growing up on an impoverished estate, surrounded by drugs, abuse and the never ending threat of violence, it was never going to be a book that filled me with warm, fuzzy feelings. At times it was almost overwhelmingly dark – and I could easily have switched to looking at pictures of kittens to cleanse my mind, but I found it a very difficult book to put down.

Kerrie-Ann grows up in an environment that perpetuates a cycle of drug abuse, young motherhood, broken families and a lifestyle that is almost impossible to break out of. Her mother is addicted to heroin, she’s never met her father, and at a young age is dragged into selling and taking drugs. However, she’s tough, she’s smart and the kind of character that I just couldn’t help but wanting something better for, and when her neighbour starts teaching her about entomology, she begins to dream of something bigger and better for her younger brother, Jon.

The highlight of The Killing Jar however is Monaghan’s writing. She tells a dark, twisted story with a bevy of unlikeable secondary characters with a touch of sympathy, without glamorising or excusing the almost constantly bad behaviour. Kerrie-Ann’s volatile relationship with her childhood ‘sweetheart’ Mark, is violent and tense, and yet there are moments when they seem a rather fucked-up kind of happy. It all feels very realistic, from the grim lives of those on the estate, the crime and the drugs and violence, through to Kerrie-Ann’s almost indestructible belief that she can change her life, despite all the roadblocks that are constantly thrown at her.

If you like dark, gritty books with a main character that make you want to simultaneously scream with frustration and sadness whilst cheering them on with your fingers crossed, check out The Killing Jar. Just don’t blame me if you need to bleach your eyes with pictures of bunnies and kittens afterwards.


  1. I'm glad that you loved The Book Thief. It is one of my favorites!

    Mariz @ http://sliceofreads.blogspot.com/2015/05/review-extraordinary-means-by-robyn.html

  2. Oooh I like the sound of this, thank you for sharing as I hadn't heard of it

  3. Ooh, just come across this. Thanks so much for reviewing my novel :)



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