January 3, 2020

The Playground Blog Tour: Review

The Playground
Author: Jane Shemilt
Release Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Paperback: 384 pages


"Beautifully written and suffused with dread. Jane Shemilt's domestic settings are seductively vivid, and the final outcome is profoundly shocking and terrifying." — Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny  

Big Little Lies meets Lord of The Flies in this electrifyingly twisty follow-up to Jane Shemilt’s breakout debut The Daughter. 

Over the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in illicit relationships, shocking violence, and unimaginable fallout. There’s Eve, a bougie earth mother with a well-stocked trust fund; she has three little ones, a blue-collar husband and is obsessed with her Instagrammable recipes and lifestyle. And Melissa, a successful interior designer whose casually cruel banker husband is careful not to leave visible bruises; she curates her perfectly thin body so closely she misses everything their teenage daughter is hiding. Then there’s Grace, a young Zimbabwean immigrant, who lives in high-rise housing project with her two children and their English father Martin, an award-winning but chronically broke novelist; she does far more for her family than she should have to. As the weeks go by, the couples become very close; there are barbecues, garden parties, a holiday at a country villa in Greece. Resentments flare. An affair begins. Unnoticed, the children run wild. The couples are busily watching each other, so distracted and self-absorbed that they forget to watch their children. No one sees the five children at their secret games or realize how much their family dynamics are changing until tragedy strikes. The story twists and then twists again while the three families desperately search for answers. It’s only as they begin to unravel the truth of what happened over the summer that they realize evil has crept quietly into their world. But has this knowledge come too late?

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Playground is an adrenaline-fueled mystery full of twists and turns that fans of domestic suspense thrillers will definitely enjoy. The cast of characters is pretty large - consisting of three sets of parents and their children. There are quite a few people to keep track of and it could get a bit confusing if you didn't have a good grasp of who was who from the beginning. I found that most of the characters - the parents and the children - were all rounded and definitely complex and overall realistic. They each had flaws and make mistakes, which made them easy to empathize with and connect with. There were so many various characters that each had so much potential but not enough pages to get to really know or understand them. 
The major plot isn't a new one - it's one where three families become very close over the course of the summer and things go downhill and become downright crazy by the end of the book. I did like how the author made each of the characters unique and each of their situations realistic. It was all very easy to imagine it happening in real life. There were parts that had me in complete disbelief, lots of twists and turns I didn't see coming, but there were also parts that I figured out way in advance and could see coming a mile away. I wish that the book had more twisty parts that kept me guessing - that's my favorite kind of mystery/thriller. Overall, it's a good domestic suspense that fans of that genre and readers who enjoy mysteries, thrillers, contemporary fiction, and suspense will enjoy.
While working full time as a physician, Jane Shemilt received an M.A. in creative writing. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for The Daughter, her first novel. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol, England. Follow Jane on Twitter and Instagram.


  1. Sounds good.

  2. I really enjoyed this one but maybe because I totally know some parents who would be like this. Ha! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours