Book Review: Ketchup Clouds By Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds Review

Published: 2012

Author: Annabel Pitcher – also see ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece’

Rating: ***


The Review

I wanted to love this book, and I did like it, but I didn’t love it. I purchased it after a short review I saw on Booktube, that being said the reviewer wasn’t over-whelmed either.

The story is written entirely in letter form, telling the story of the present day and the past events, to a convict on Death Row. Whilst the story is actually set in England it feels much Americanised, if you’ve read the book let me know what you think of this because I got very muddled to begin with.

The main character ‘Zoey Collins’ (not her real name – another confusion) narrates her guilty story from her shed at night. As a narrator I didn’t mind he, I thought she seemed sweet, family-orientated and a bit just-wanna-do-my-own-thing kind of girl but there was a naivety that was annoying. Also, as a ‘whiny teenager’ it does take a lot to listen to her story without thinking ‘was I ever like that?’

The story itself revolves around her and her relationships with two brothers – it’s a love triangle. It is evident from the first Part which brother she prefers and because of this there isn’t much of a surprise come the end. The ending itself has some twist to it, but only because when you read the blurb and see the cover with ‘Ketchup Clouds’ on the front you’re not expecting the storyline the book comes out with.

The title. So many people have questioned this title, and I am among them. I do not dislike the title, I think that it is eye-catching and different but it does remind me a bit of the pretentious short-story titles that I come up with for my University Creative Writing course. It doesn’t seem to fit the story like other books such as ‘Room’ By Emma Donoghue or ‘If I stay’ By Gayle Forman. I think the author knew this as well as there is a constant mention throughout the book of Ketchup Clouds but never any real description for why or why this is connected to the twist at the end? As a writer myself I don’t see the point of having a title that doesn’t coincide fluently with the story and the outcome because that would be like calling a block of cheese: a hammer. It makes no sense and has no connection to the actual product.

However, even with these minute dislikes of mine, I did find that when I was reading the story it was difficult to put it down. I never like to shut a book mid-chapter or mid-letter so I read this book with alarming speed, but not only because I wanted to finish the chapter but because I generally wanted to know what was going to happen. I have praise for Pitcher’s ability to create suspense, even if the finished twist isn’t as spectacular as I’d like.

The writing is good, and I will happily read Annabel Pitcher’s other novel: My sister lives on the Mantelpiece, which is currently sitting in my ‘TBR’ section of my bookshelf, but for this story it could have been better. But that being said I did enjoy it and I will keep it, but not necessarily to be read again…

I give it 3 stars out of 5 for writing, style and some characteristics but it only just scrapes the 3 due to lack of originality, a confusing title and a dud ending.

Let me know what you think.



  1. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed some aspects of this book despite having complaints about others. I read it about a year ago, and the thing I remember the most is the strange characterization - Zoe describes the recipient of her letters, knowing nothing about him, but her version of him, whether real or not, becomes a fully fleshed-out character. I absolutely loved that aspect and thought it was so clever, but I see where you're coming from about the title. I would have liked to see "ketchup clouds" play a more significant role in the story.

  2. I hadn't really thought about Emily's characterisation of the 'Death Row Inmate' but I see what you mean, and I agree. But I think it highlights her naivety as a character though: seeing a convicted murderer as innocent because she feels like a murderer as well, when in fact it wasn't entirely her fault. It's like she's hoping all murderers are actually lovely men and women, when in fact most of them aren't. does make you think, this book, I just wished it would have made me think more whilst I was reading it.