Even death needs company: The Opposite of Lonely by Doug Johnstone #bookreview #TheOppositeOfLonely

A body lost at sea, arson, murder, astronauts, wind phones, communal funerals and existential angst … This can ONLY mean one thing! The Skelfs are back, and things are as tense, unnerving and warmly funny as ever!
The Skelf women are recovering from the cataclysmic events that nearly claimed their lives. Their funeral-director and private-investigation businesses are back on track, and their cases are as perplexing as ever.
Matriarch Dorothy looks into a suspicious fire at an illegal campsite, and takes a grieving, homeless man under her wing. Daughter Jenny is searching for her missing sister-in-law, who disappeared in tragic circumstances, while grand-daughter Hannah is asked to investigate increasingly dangerous conspiracy theorists, who are targeting a retired female astronaut … putting her own life at risk.
With a body lost at sea, funerals for those with no one to mourn them, reports of strange happenings in outer space, a funeral crasher with a painful secret, and a violent attack on one of the family, The Skelfs face their most personal – and perilous – cases yet. Doing things their way may cost them everything…
Tense, unnerving and warmly funny, The Opposite of Lonely is the hugely anticipated fifth instalment in the unforgettable Skelfs series, and this time, danger comes from everywhere…


Hi and welcome to my review of The Opposite of Lonely!

First of all: a huge thankyou to Doug Johnstone for steering me clear of a reading slump! I hadn’t had the best time with reading. I struggled through book upon book until I came across one that almost bored me to tears and thus caused me to DNF, which I almost never do. On the brink of a reading slump, desperate to avert the crisis, I remembered what I did the last time I felt this way: I read Breakers by Doug Johnstone and it snapped me right out of my funk. 

I figured what Doug did once, he could do again, especially when it involved a new instalment in one of my favourite series. Lo and behold, a few chapters later, I remembered why I love reading.

The Opposite of Lonely is the fifth Skelfs book, and it’s every bit as fantastic as its predecessors. In case you missed it, the Skelfs were first introduced in A Dark Matter in 2019. The paterfamilias had just died, leaving his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah bereft. However, the Skelf women bounced back and throughout the sequels they have had to face A LOT but they’ve thrived and so has their dual business as undertakers / private investigators. 

Note that you should probably read the other books first, because this one is full of spoilers. On the other hand, if you want to jump into this series without having to read a bunch of other books first, this is probably the book to do it with. (I’ll try not to judge you for it…)

The Opposite of Lonely is everything I’d been craving. Short chapters alternating between the three protagonists keep the momentum going. We’re hopping from Skelf to Skelf, from investigation to investigation, with some personal and funeral business issues, and quite a bit of thought-provoking wisdom about life thrown in for good measure. Flawless writing and impeccable timing ensure a fast-paced, riveting and well-rounded story that never gets confusing or overwhelming.

The Opposite of Lonely is quite simply brilliant. Words can’t express how much I love these women, how real they seem to me. I have to mention Jenny’s personal growth, her character arc is amazing, yet believable. I love how far she’s come and that she’s found her feet and her place in the world and in the family businesses and in the family itself.

At a time when I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to pick up a book again because you’re dying to know what happens next, The Opposite of Lonely had me put down my Kobo with the utmost reluctance and pick it up again with the utmost eagerness. It’s good to know I’m not broken and if I was, Doug fixed me 😂

Do I even need to say it? Highly recommended!

The Opposite of Lonely is out in paperback and digital formats on 28 September. Preorder it directly from Orenda Books here

Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the digital proof. All opinions are my own. 

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