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Idle Hands
by Cassondra Windwalker
Review

 

IDLE HANDS

Cover image of the book 'Idle Hands' by author Cassondra WindwalkerYou can call me Ella. You generally assign me a whole host of other preposterous monikers. I think the least imaginative name I’ve heard is “the devil”, but I’ll answer to it if I must.

After making the courageous decision to leave her abusive husband, Perdie and her three young children start over and finally find the safety and love they deserve. But years later, when tragedy strikes, Perdie is left wondering if the choice she made to leave has led them to this moment.

If she were given the opportunity to take it all back and stay, would she?

In a frantic bid to protect her family, Perdie makes a deal to do just that. But in a world where the devil pulls the strings, can Perdie really change the past?

Brimming with enlightened observations and brilliant voice, Idle Hands is a haunting examination of grief, resilience, and what we’d give to spend another moment with the ones we love

CASSONDRA WINDWALKER

Image of author Cassondra WindwalkerCassondra grew up on plains and longed for mountains. Today she lives by the frozen sea.

She earned a BA of Letters at the University of Oklahoma and pursued careers in bookselling and law enforcement before resigning her post to write full time.

A poet, essayist and novelist, her short-form work has appeared in numerous literary journals and art books. Her full-length books of poetry and prose are available in bookstores and online.

She welcomes conversations with readers through her social media platforms and in the occasional coffee shop.

Check out Cassondra’s website

Follow Cassondra on Twitter

Connect with Cassondra on Facebook

Cover image of the book 'Idle Hands' by author Cassondra Windwalker

FIRST LINES 

(From the prologue and chapter one)

“Of all of them, Tad was the hardest for me to hold on to. Perhaps that was why I let him go so soon.”

“You know this is the only way,” Perdie sighed, scraping back the strands of brown hair that had fallen loose from her ponytail.”

Cover image of the book 'Idle Hands' by author Cassondra Windwalker

MEMORABLE WORDS

“Losing face was a possibility no narcissist could permit.”

.

“Perdie knew it wasn’t healthy to find reassurance in the fully deliberate nature of her husband’s cruelty; but then, she’d given up on healthy a long time ago.”

.

“It was her fault she’d stayed so long that they’d grown inured to terror the only way they knew how: by sympathising with the aggressor.”

.

“Perdie had picked up more than a handful of unhealthy habits born out of her experiences as a battered wife, and she’d unconsciously attempted to sabotage her new marriage more than once or twice.”

.

“Your worth and value as a human being isn’t based on what you look like or how well you fit into a pair of jeans.”

.

“Perdie looked down at her hands as if a better answer waited there. “That’s true. Life hasn’t been fair to these kids, and neither have I.”

.

“Children read books for the opposite reason as adults do: they’re hunting for hidden truths, while adults are searching for palatable lies.”

.

“Just to live, for a second, would be worth any death.”

Cover image of the book 'Idle Hands' by author Cassondra Windwalker

REVIEW

“The devil is in the details”

OMG! Where to begin! Now I have finished sobbing into my tissues, I need to pull myself together and put into words just how much I enjoyed this book and how amazing it is!

Most importantly, I do recommend, that if you decide to read this book, which I very much hope that you will, you should take extra time to actually truly study each and every word of not only the core narrative and dialogue, but also the very thought provoking interjections by ‘Ellie’, giving yourself plenty of time to absorb and assimilate author Cassondra Windwalker’s amazingly descriptive powers with the written word. I promise you, the punch it packs will be more than worth it. Almost every sentence was memorable for me and I could have shared so many more wonderful quotes with you!

A powerful work of literary, poetical and lyrical fiction, all rolled into one relatively short book, compelling and original, which pushes the buttons for just about every human emotion, then turns each and every scenario on its head and walks away, leaving the reader to dissemble and rearrange their true feelings about the whole spectrum of events and their ensuing tragic consequences.

The writing itself, is intense, raw, energy draining, profoundly touching and totally absorbing. Its unique and unconventional style messed with my mind and emotions, whilst also physically leaving my guts in a tight knot of fear and trepidation.

The opening lines had me hooked, the storyline was sickeningly detailed, hugely poignant and engrossing almost to the point of being voyeuristic. The ending was always going to belong to ‘Ellie’, with either of Perdie’s options resulting in total heartbreak and the ruination of so many lives. A story not neatly packaged, but one which reflected the not so neatly packaged lives of its characters and the total devastation heaped upon them by their nemesis which went by the name of ‘Ellie’ – The Devil’s Advocate!

To say that the storyline is gripping, might be to downplay the terrifying truths of what it must be like to be a family subjected to domestic abuse and violence. However Cassondra highlights all too vividly, through the lives of Perdie, Tad, Hannah and Rachel, those feelings of total despair, devastation, futility and ‘aloneness’, which all too many face at the hands of an abusive family member. Whether to fight or flee, speak out or suffer in silence; differing levels of cruelty, but all too often resulting in the same tragic consequences. Made no easier for Perdie by having the Devil constantly on her shoulder, unseen yet whispering in her ear throughout, making her doubt the value and wisdom of her decisions and waiting for its opportunity to push her over the edge, knowing that there can only ever be one winner in this game, but plenty of heartbroken losers! There is a jaw dropping and totally unexpected twist to this story at about the 75% marker, which I never saw coming and have personally, never seen attempted by an author before. At first I just couldn’t see how everything was going to flow smoothly and still work out to some conclusion, however Cassondra triumphed yet again, leaving me in complete awe of her talents as a bold writer and creative storyteller of distinction. With Perdie’s broken voice ringing in my ears, I was left to decide which sacrifices she ultimately chooses to make and wishing that ‘Ellie’ wasn’t lying in wait for her, as she is for all of us, to take that one wrong decision which will have us turning into her deadly embrace, rather than denouncing her, leaving her to tread the solitary pathway to her next victim!

The cast of characters, all searching for a sense of belonging, definitely came alive on the pages, as each travelled on their own, visually descriptive and doomed journey to inevitable heartbreak. None of them were outstandingly enigmatic or memorable as victims, with maybe Perdie’s middle daughter, Rachel, having the most spunk and determination of them all to see wrongs righted, although that final ultimate sacrifice is never hers to make. And as you would expect, as the abuser, Matt, the self-professed victim of events not of his own making, made the most noise, wielding the sharpest tongue and the most deadly of fists and feet, in the full belief that his wife and children should be treated as nothing more than an extension of his own identity.

Perdie was perhaps the most constant of characters, always silently defending and protecting her children, whether soaking up Matt’s fury, or basking in the glow of Reilly’s love and adoration. Her final devotion to duty was never going to end well and perhaps in some perverse way, I found myself rooting for Reilly, a rock and safe haven, whose faith in Perdie and the children was unshakeable, total and final. If only Perdie’s faith in herself could have been so steadfast. I touch briefly on the character of Reilly, but to expand on his role in the story would be to give away too many spoilers, so you really do need to go into this part of the journey ‘blind’ and ready to embrace the short time of humanity, stability and levity with which Cassondra has so poignantly imbued the storyline.

In their own individual roles though, each character was sympathetically and sensitively defined, if not particularly easy to connect with and I found myself investing all my time and energy in them, during this condensed, short, yet excruciatingly desperate and painful journey.

This book would be an excellent choice for a book club or reading group, so long as you have a varied spectrum of members, with wide ranging, open-minded views about right and wrong, good and evil. I have no doubt that the ensuing discussions and debates would be lively – and you might even come up with a whole new ending for Perdie!

Image of author Cassondra Windwalker

A Kindle copy of this book for review, was kindly gifted to me by publisher Agora Books, via NetGalley, as a ‘Read Now’ download.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract the full, well deserved 5 out of 5 stars and a place on my ‘favourites’ shelf at Goodreads!

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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8 comments
  • This sounds like a very interesting book, on a subject which is not easy to read about, even in fiction form. I’m wondering what is that twist you mentioned and I’m curious about the book too.
    I think I’m going to add it to my to-read list on goodreads. It is a thought provoking kind of book.

    • Hi Anca,

      I have noticed that you don’t always follow the mainstream genres in your reading, so I think you would really find this book thought provoking and interesting.

      The core subject matter of the storyline, that of abuse, is of course totally emotional and disturbing. However ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ really stirs up the mix and made me think – what would I do in Perdie’s shoes? !

      Thanks for sharing my Twitter post and for taking the time to comment here. Have a good Bank Holiday weekend 🙂

    • Hi Kelly and thank you so much for those kind words, they mean a lot to me!

      I don’t know if you and the ladies are still having your book club meetings, but this storyline really would make for some pretty good debate.

      I don’t want to give too much away if you have the book lined up on your Kindle, but I still can’t make my mind up whether Perdie makes the right choice. It seems to me that the Devil’s Advocate actually offers her ‘Hobsons Choice’ and she is ‘damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t’. I shall be interested to see what you think 🙂

  • Terrific review, Yvonne. Goodness me, this sounds like an intense experience of a book, no ordinary read. I’ll give it some thought as I’m not sure it’s for me. So pleased you were bowled over by it though.

    • Hi Cath,

      The whole storyline revolves around domestic violence and the choices a mother has to make to protect her family – with helpful advice from The Devil’s Advocate, Ellie, who has a vested interest in Perdie making the right decision – for Ellie!

      No right or wrong answer, just an amazingly powerful narrative and dialogue, uniquely written by a skilled author.

      Not everyone’s choice I have to admit, but I do recommend it!

      Enjoy your Bank Holiday Monday. We shall have a quiet one, staying away from all the crowds! 🙂

  • Wow Yvonne, glad you enjoyed this so much. Fantastic review and quotes you’ve shared. Perdie sounds like an interesting character and this does sound like it would be a great book club read. thanks for putting this on my radar! I also like that eye-catching cover.

    • Hi Naida,

      I have to say that when this book came up as a ‘Read Now’ option on NetGalley, that amazing cover was the first thing that caught my eye.

      Cassondra writes books with such alternative and unique storylines and characters and I could have just carried on sharing quotes, as the book was full of such lovely words.

      Perdie spends the entire story putting her children before herself and the happiness she eventually finds in her second stab at life. I really admired her most of the time, however there were a couple of occasions when I wanted to shake her and tell her to think of herself for a change.

      Thanks for your kind comments, I always appreciate your support 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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