The Crooked Little Pieces book cover

The Crooked Little Pieces is truly “a television drama. Novelised.”

The Crooked Little Pieces by Sophia Lambton is a story revolving around two sisters. Or rather, it is a story about these two sisters. We follow musical prodigy Isabel and her twin, inquisitive but quiet Annelise, as they grow and mature and experience a whole lot of drama and circumstances.

We start off slow, being introduced to these two sisters in the present before jumping back to the past, where we get to see where it all began. A few things are immediately apparent. This book has a slow start and our protagonists are not likeable. 

In the beginning, we are piled with introductions. Introductions to the sisters, their parents, acquaintances, and surroundings are described in full detail. While I can understand that this would not be favourable with some readers, all these introductions are not in vain. Throughout the beginning, there was always this lingering sense that something was going to happen, that all of this was a buildup to something explosive. This meant that I started reading with the expectation that things would pick up after a few chapters, but soon discovered I was wrong. The book itself indeed has a slow pace, but while I was admittedly disappointed at first, I had to acknowledge that this pace was suitable for a book like this, which covered hefty subject material.

It has been a long while since I’ve read anything that features such unlikable characters, so The Crooked Little Pieces was a rough jolt back to reality as I was reminded that this type of protagonist does indeed exist. It may not sound encouraging to have unlikable protagonists in a book, but as it has been mentioned by readers far more knowledgeable than I, this is not a signifier of a bad story (which is rather obvious when you think about it). It could even possibly make a story more interesting, which was true for this case. Although I wasn’t fond of both sisters with their overly formal speech, blunt and stubborn behaviour, I grew increasingly interested in their antics and the events that transpired around them over the course of the book. Even if you aren’t fond of the characters, I believe it is a good sign when you are able to enjoy the book anyway, which was the case for me.

Moving on to the writing. The writing is not that easy to get into at first. The use of more stately or grandiose words can be off putting, but personally I felt as if it did suit the time period and the tone of the book, so it wasn’t an issue to me. The author managed to invoke a clear sense of time and place while maintaining a sense I would describe as “just slightly blurry around the edges”. What this means is that although most details provided through the writing allowed me to envision a fairly clear idea of the settings and situations, there was just the right amount of uncertainty or lack of detail that allowed me to imagine and wonder. 

This book contains some content that could possibly be triggering, including violence and bodily harm. Once again it aligned with the serious tone of the book, but it is something worth keeping in mind, especially for those who are uncomfortable with these depictions. 

Overall, I enjoyed the read. It reminded me of the likes of Affinity Konar’s Mischling and a little of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. It offers a glimpse of history while bringing us along the sisters’ harrowing exploits, its strength lying in building both sisters’ characters, which in turn influences the plot. As it has been mentioned, it truly stays true to its claim of “It is television drama. Novelised.”

Received from the author in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Sophia Lambton and The Crepuscular Press for the chance to read and review this book!


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