Book Review: The Rules By Tracy Darnton

**We were gifted a copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own**

I’m thrilled to have been working with Little Tiger Press recently and reviewing some of their wonderful children’s and young adult titles for my blog. Today I have yet another brand new release to tell you about and share my thoughts too. Thanks again to Little Tiger for sending ma a copy of Tracy Darnton’s latest YA title, The Rules; I hope you enjoy reading my review.

About The Book

Amber’s an expert when it comes to staying hidden – she’s been trained her whole life for it. But what happens when the person you’re hiding from taught you everything you know?

When a letter from her dad arrives, Amber knows she’s got to move – and fast. He’s managed to find her and she knows he’ll stop at nothing to draw her back into the extreme survivalist way of life he believes in.

All of a sudden the Rules she’s spent so long trying to escape are the ones keeping her safe. But for how long?


When Amber lived with her Dad her life was dictated by his self-imposed strict ‘prepper’ rules, but she left that life behind….or so she thought. Having survived the care system and happily living at boarding school Amber’s life is flipped on it’s axis when her support worker says they have received a letter from her Father.

Unable to understand how he has managed to track her down and fearing for her life, Amber knows she has to draw upon every trick she knows to evade her Father. The only problem being that he knows all the rules too; he created them.

Putting into action the plan which she has long hoped not to have to use Amber leaves the comfort and security she has come to rely on, heading out alone. Along the way she meets a face from the past, drifter Josh, who somehow bags himself a seat on her personal journey. But will she be able to outrun her ruthless fanatical Father? or will her past manage to catch up with her?

The synopsis of this book was intriguing as whilst I’ve never read anything about ‘prepper’ culture it’s something that has always piqued my interest. It doesn’t give much away and to be honest that’s an ongoing theme throughout the story which slowly drip feeds snippets along the way to create the whole picture at it’s conclusion.

The story is set over only 22 days in the run up to Christmas with each chapter alternating between the present and the past, interspersing chapters focusing on The Rules and what they mean to Amber’s Dad. The writing is atmospheric which add’s to the mystery and air of tension throughout, keeping me turning the pages to discover what would happen next.

Josh’s character was by far my favourite as he often brought some much needed ‘light relief’ from what is a book laced with some heavy topics. Despite his own traumatic past his never ending ‘Tigger-like’ optimism was a wonderful addition to this story and certainly something that Amber needed – even though I know she didn’t always see it that way!

I felt the execution of this extreme glimpse into the world of ‘preppers’ was fantastic, offering the perfect balance of intrigue, mystery and action. The final chapter was simply amazing and threw me off balance significantly with a twist I didn’t see coming; not something that happens very often!

The Rules was a fabulous and unexpected read that had me gripped. I’d highly recommend this to thriller fans, although please do be aware of the trigger warnings mentioned in the front of the book and also noted below if this is a book you’d like to read. It’s the first book by Tracy Darnton I have read and I will certainly be checking out her previous book The Truth About Lies as well as eagerly anticipating any future releases.


About The Author

Tracy Darnton is a writer for children and young adults.

Her latest novel, The Rules, is about a girl on the run from her prepper dad and his extreme rules. It delves into the world of preppers preparing for disaster.

Her first novel – The Truth About Lies – was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2019 and was a World Book Night 2020 title. She has a special interest in the nature of memory and mnemonic techniques and so it was inevitable that her first novel would be a memory thriller. She chose Dartmoor – one of her favourite places in the UK – as its setting.

She won the Stripes/The Bookseller YA Short Story Prize in 2016. Her short story The Letter was published in I’ll Be Home for Christmas and is now the basis of the novel The Rules.

She lives in Bath in the South West of England where she buys far too many books.

The Rules is available to purchase now from Amazon*

*This post contains affiliate links

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