Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Absence of Nectar” as Want to Read:
The Absence of Nectar
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Absence of Nectar

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  636 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
If only Alice could get rid of her new stepfather, Simon Jester. No one wants to believe that the pieces of his tragic past don't seem to fit-or that he is trying to poison Alice and her older brother. Until the one night her mother comes in to kiss her goodnight and instead whispers a single word..."RUN."
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 27th 2002 by Jove (first published January 1st 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Absence of Nectar, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Absence of Nectar

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 11, 2007 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: mystery
After reading the other two books by Kathy Hepinstall, I was excited about reading this one. Though different from the other two, the book still flows poetically with descriptions of place and time that take the reader back to the early seventies and into the world of a young child. Maybe that's part of why I liked this book so's told from the innocence of a twelve year old but with the knowing of a smart young girl who knows she's in trouble but is fairly helpless to do anything about ...more
Aug 28, 2010 Venus rated it it was amazing
I read this book years ago and immediately wanted everyone I knew to read it as well. Now I'm reading it once again and I remember why I enjoyed it so much.
Jun 25, 2008 Jaime rated it it was amazing
Lyrical and haunting; scary, sad, and gorgeous. I loved this book. Hepinstall's best book.
Jun 06, 2009 Kerry rated it liked it
I liked it. Not my typical genre, but set in East Texas, author from Austin, was reccomended and my interest was peaked. All of the pieces fit very nicely together, too nicely for my taste but still a good read.
Cathe Olson
Jun 14, 2010 Cathe Olson rated it it was amazing
I picked this up by chance at the library book sale last weekend and it was great. The book is about a twisted new stepfather who doesn't like his stepchildren very much (to say the least). It reminded me a bit of some of the evil stepfather movies I've seen but this had the added twist of one of the kids idolizing a teen girl who poisoned her parents who he constantly writes to in prison and tries to make contact with on one of her frequent escapes from a mental institution. Good creepy fun.
Apr 19, 2009 Ariane rated it it was amazing
You will love to hate the father in this book. I had a very ragged copy that I got for free from a thrift store. Truly a diamond in the rough. The story is very involved and I could not put it down.
Merline White
Aug 31, 2010 Merline White rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2016 Karrie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, sfrc-winter
I really liked this book. The characters were interesting and well formed. It moved along at a nice pace, and the story was engaging.
Karis Johnson
Sep 30, 2016 Karis Johnson rated it it was amazing
Let me talk about this book.

"In the living room, God's Bible sits open on Simon's chair, where he'd been leafing through it, bloody. This part of Texas can't save us. We eat our chicken." - The Absence of Nectar.

I devoured this book in a day. The characters are wonderful and well-rounded, the story is so much deeper than you think upon first picking it up, and the setting is perfect. Everything about it pulls you in. Generally, I read fantasy. I've been trying to branch out lately, especially in
Christian Engler
Sep 19, 2013 Christian Engler rated it it was amazing
A multi-layered, rousing novel of suspense that fuses psychological terror and violence with childhood innocence, The Absence of Nectar is a novel that is unified by different literary genres that forms a reading experience that is not simply unique, but also intellectually edifying, entertaining and occasionally corrosively comical. The protagonists - Alice and Boone Fendar - could be an updated Texan verson of Jem and Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. But their battle is not with the evi ...more
Jeanette Stingley
Oct 07, 2010 Jeanette Stingley rated it really liked it
For those of you who are writers, we all know that you must hook your reader within the first few pages to keep the reader turning those pages. With The Absence of Nectar, Kathy Hepinstall jumps right into the tragic tale of our narrator, Alice. Alice is 12 but is more mature then most her age. The story begins with a scene of abuse from her step-father, Simon.

After Alice’s father leaves his family behind for a new woman, her mother, Meg, falls into a terrible depression and leaves Alice and her
Apr 07, 2013 Gale rated it it was ok

Simon Jester is deadly serious about teaching children lessons in loyalty. Wives and pets too. No one is exempt in this dizzying novel of insensate bitterness, in which Hepinstall has created a world devoid of the sweetness of human compassion and divine love. All must sufer, for many sacrifices are expected by a jealous man who sees monsters in still waters--whose lurking insanity reaches out with a ripple effect to touch all within his sphere of hatred. Why
Robert Beveridge
Hepinstall returns with her second novel, and what a twisted one it is. Part coming-of-age novel, part crazy-preacher novel, part slice-of-life novel (but a slice of the kind of life one finds in, say, Joyce Carol Oates’ more depraved characters), and all charming, in the same sort of way Ted Bundy is said to have been charming.

The plot is pretty straightforward (girl finds evidence that her stepfather is trying to kill her), the pace is adequate, the pages turn themselves with relative ease, an
Robert Beveridge
Hepinstall returns with her second novel, and what a twisted one it is. Part coming-of-age novel, part crazy-preacher novel, part slice-of-life novel (but a slice of the kind of life one finds in, say, Joyce Carol Oates' more depraved characters), and all charming, in the same sort of way Ted Bundy is said to have been charming.

The plot is pretty straightforward (girl finds evidence that her stepfather is trying to kill her), the pace is adequate, the pages turn themselves with relative ease, an
Mar 03, 2010 Mimi rated it liked it
This book was a fun, albeit slightly predictable, 1-day thriller. For this I was truly grateful after being so disappointed in Mary Higgins Clark's recent fiction (I used to count on her for a good, fast read!). Kathy Hepinstall is a talented writer whose ability to use her prose to create a suspenseful tale kept me intrigued from beginning to end.

This first person narrative is "told" by Alice, an 11-year-old girl who has not only had to deal with her real father's abandonment but also a stepfat
Feb 28, 2011 Nadine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ein wichtiges Kriterium eines Buches hat "Ein Hauch von Bittermandel" auf jeden Fall erfüllt: Ich habe es verschlungen. Trotzdem nur 2 Sterne...
Das Buch fängt extrem spannend an, mit zwei Kindern, die fürchten, vom Stiefvater vergiftet zu weren, und sich per Zeichen wie Blinzeln verständigen, ob er zum Beispiel mit dem Reis unbeaufsichtigt war. Wunderbar und schrecklich zugleich auch der Moment, wo sie die Körperfunktionen kontrollieren und im Geiste die Symptome möglicher Gifte durchgehen.
Ich w
Eric Hall
Mar 24, 2010 Eric Hall rated it it was amazing
Yes, if you've read my other reviews of her books, this is basically the same. You'll like the story, you'll love reading the words. I'm mostly a fantasy novel fan. But, I recognize good writing when I see it. Kathy is a joy to read and I'll pick up her next book when it comes out.

Very well written book. The characters are fun, the conflict is entertaining, and the story is very well told.

Kathy has a way with words. She's a throwback to times when well written books also meant that the language
Feb 02, 2013 Loraine rated it it was ok
Way too much swearing in my humble opinion. I know it happens. A lot. In the real world, but why bring it out again and again when it truly is not necessary? No, not even for emphasis in literature, to make the bad guy seem really, truly bad. I honestly don't think we need to hear (or read) those offensive horrible words to intimate that someone is really, truly a bad guy. Any more than we have to get graphic for any type of murder, violence, or sexual scenes to get the point across.

Otherwise, i
Apr 13, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I read this book cover to cover in one sitting all in a hospital emergency room and I absolutely loved it. I was captivated by the writing – which was so well done, and the suspense of the book just thrilled me and then had me turning each page with anticipation. I didn't predict the end of the book, there is one huge coincidence and that is pretty unlikely, but the overall story is so powerfully believable that I was able to take it in stride.the characterizations were great – the story was ver ...more
Michael Sump
Sep 07, 2013 Michael Sump rated it did not like it
An old friend of mine, Liz Natale, once told me that she was too old to read “bad books.”

This is a wise philosophy at 80 or at 8. Suzanne and I violated this wisdom by completing the audio book, long after we knew that it was not worth our time.

This book has a decent premise but somehow never met the promise of its outline. There are definite good guys and bad guys and guys who could go either way in this novel but--by by the time you're half way through it—you don't care which ones die and wh
Mar 14, 2014 Audrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: abuse
This was a very good book it was suspenseful and the characters seemed very real and true to life.

The main story involves an evil step father, a passive, somewhat clueless mother and two young siblings that try to survive in the mess their life has become in just one summer.

At the center of their story is young girl, she's on the run from the mental institution she has been held in for killing her parents.

Her life and the lives of the two teenage main characters intermingle to create a lot of
Patricia Baker
Sep 17, 2014 Patricia Baker rated it really liked it
loved this book. chosen by my book group for the monthly selection. have never read this author before, but will look for her other title. Alice is an in-your-face eleven year old who does not like her stepfather and tried to live in the same house with the possibility of being poisoned by him. Simon, the evil stepfather, enters the picture as a savior of a drowning mother and uses the guise of godliness to firm his place in the family. the mother, Meg, is a soft hearted backboneless woman who n ...more
Claire Grasse
May 03, 2012 Claire Grasse rated it really liked it
The mark of a good book, in my opinion, is if something startles me into looking up and when I do, I can't remember where I am or how I got there. Kathy Hepinstall weaves words that way, like a spell. Her characters never stagnate, never fall flat. The sense of doom in their lives builds relentlessly from the first glimpse of the dead bees on page three until the climax. And she ends with hope, which is vital to me, as a reader.

It's not often you find flawless characterization, lyrical setting d
Holly Medina
Sep 10, 2007 Holly Medina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Suspense lovers
Shelves: recentlyread
This book was interesting and full of suspense throughout the whole story. I really liked the way the author had the story set up and true to her form, there were twist that you didnt see coming throughout the story.

It is writeen from the view point of Alice, an 11 year old girl who teams up with her 14 year old brother. They have to protect themselves from their stepfather who is thinks he is saving the world, but he is actually just a psycho who is thinks everyone is out to get him, and he ha
Oct 01, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it

Hepinstall appeared to be something of the usual for me, a flat, hazy southerner mystery. But the unpredictability of Alice's newest family member was a bit of a creeping feeling for me, I could practically see the remainder of food on his whiskers, and smell his unkempt ponytail (trust me, what I smelled, it would have been better to bury your face in your dog). Alice's escape from her household is also a tad psychological for any children that get their hands on this book. Who wouldn't want to
Mar 19, 2009 Vivian rated it did not like it
Most readers have loved this book and praised it endlessly. I didn't care for this book at all. It is incredibly slow moving. You have to read more than 250 pages for anything interesting to happen. While Ms. Hepinstall writes well, and the premise is interesting, the book could have benefited from a few more rewrites and better editing. The novel is way too long, boring and the weak willed mother's sudden awakening at the end was a ridiculous wrap up to the story. I still have two of her other ...more
Laura Cunningham
Aug 09, 2011 Laura Cunningham rated it it was amazing
i really like this book. after reading a very dense book before this (which was very good as well) this was a great transition and i would recommend it a lot of people. i was so happy to see that so many other people seemed to enjoy this book as well... i am nearly done and im trying to hardest to not just plow through it. i enjoy reading this book its simple and have even caught myself laughing at certain parts Alice is a sarcastic young girl who i have very much enjoyed i loved her character.
Jun 12, 2012 Leisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Interesting and different. Not sure if I liked it or not. It's a story I definitely wanted to know how it ended but at the same time it seemed rather far fetched. Meg is completely out of it and snowed (no pun intended) by Simon. And what kid can bust out of multiple psych institutions...this one just goes a bit too far out there for me.
Oct 01, 2008 Tara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: suspense lovers and those who like a good family drama
I really would give this 3 and 1/2 stars if I could (it was not thought provoking or engrossing as books I usually rate 4 stars). It was an entertaining read with some nice plot twists and a solid story. It was one of those books that was hard to put down, but was frustrating because you wanted to jump into the book and shake some sense into some of the characters.
Sep 07, 2011 Roger rated it really liked it
The Absence of Nectar is an odd hybrid of suspense and Southern humor-it is half Kaye Gibbons and half Greg Iles. For the most part this works and there are some nice twists thrown in. But sometimes it seems to sacrifice tension for humor-definitely the wrong choice in this case. Nonetheless a very enjoyable read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Out of Time (Casey Jones Mysteries #2)
  • Cooking for Mr. Right
  • Begin to Exit Here
  • A Dangerous Road (Smokey Dalton, #1)
  • Les Bijoux, Volume 1
  • Everything Hurts
  • The Stolen
  • The Barbarians are Coming
  • Boy Still Missing
  • The Last Word (Sophie Trace Trilogy #2)
  • Beside the Sea
  • Notice
  • The Tarot Cafe, #4
  • Winter Range
  • A Gracious Plenty
  • Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care
  • Don't Ask Me Why
  • The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun
Kathy Hepinstall was born in Odessa, Texas, and spent a large part of her childhood two hours from the Louisiana border, where most of her relatives
reside. She lives in Austin, Texas.
More about Kathy Hepinstall...

Share This Book