Author: Sarah Ann Juckes Published: January 2019 Pages: 288 Rating: 5 stars
Outside follows the story of Ele, who is held captive in a small room by a man known as ‘Him’. Ele is determined to prove there is a world Outside. And when she finds a hole in the wall, the proof starts leaking in.
I had mixed feelings about this novel for the first few chapters. The language was difficult to navigate and I didn’t know what I’d let myself in for. However, I stuck with it and was soon swept up in Ele’s mission and her distinctive childish vernacular.
It’s down to the perspective from which this extraordinary story is told that makes this book so unique. Ele knows nothing about life outside. Her only guide to the world beyond her sheltered small room are the few fairy tale stories which keep her company. Literature acts as her only point of reference as to how the world works. Like Rapunzel, she believes she’s trapped in a tower and a Prince will soon come to rescue her. However, it’s not long before she begins writing her own story. She takes what she’s learned and writes her own rules on how to navigate herself in the outside world.
“But this ain’t Rapunzel’s story, is it? This is mine. And if there ain’t no Prince running in and slaying the Witch, then that means this Princess has got to do her own damn dirty work herself.”
Ele is fierce, determined, and her fascination with the mundane was so entertaining to read. It was if she landed on a whole new planet, mystified by everything she encountered. From brewing tea to experiencing the sensation of stepping into a warm bath for the very first time, she finds magic in the mundane. With her curious and innocent descriptions, Juckes has created an unforgettable character.
Overall, Outside is nothing like I’ve ever read before. I swallowed this book whole and I didn’t want to put it down until I found out the truth behind Ele’s tragic upbringing. The ending was incredible with an unexpected plot twist which left me wanting more from the curious character. This was a heart-breaking journey which I’m so happy to have been a part of.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK for providing me with an e-Arc version of this book in exchange for an honest review!
You can find out more about the book here on Goodreads.
Thanks for reading!