In Her Wake
by Amanda Jennings
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publishing Date: 1st April 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 320
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Psychological Thriller
A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.
A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.
Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.
I have heard tons about Amanda Jennings. Tons of amazing praises about her novel „The Judas Scar” that I have on my bookshelf, and also the early reviews of „In Her Wake” were more than raving. So it’s no wonder that I desperately wanted to read the book for myself, right? I’ll be honest, I didn’t start it immediately after receiving it, simply because I was scared that it’s not going to live up to the expectations that I had after hearing all the compliments. But after finding myself in a little reading slump I though, oh hell, let’s see. And no worries, guys, no worries, the book is simply amazing.
What really moved it is the author’s writing style and her talent to storytelling. She just took me deeper and deeper into the story, and with every page turned I felt as if I am a part of this book and only occasionally I came out for a breath or two and to have a look if everything is OK at home.
The characters in this story felt so incredibly realistic that I really had a feeling I am a part of this tale. They were also fabulously well described and because of their flaws they felt more than three – dimensional. They were all so true to life. But as much as I understand Bella, I couldn’t warm totally to her. I know she had issues, who wouldn’t have when in her shoes, and I truly fell for her and sympathized with her, but I couldn’t stop thinking that she feels a little meh. I get it – she lived isolated life and was transported from one golden cage to another, she never had a chance to decide about herself and to learn the world, and taking all these things into consideration she was really mentally strong and I really admired how she coped with all the things, but still, I can’t put my finger on it but I couldn’t totally warm to her and trust her. She was not annoying or frustrating, though her indecisiveness and vulnerability were really strongly emphasized. But it’s just me and my feelings, don’t pay any attention. Nevertheless, I really liked to follow her on this whole journey and to get to know her, from her childhood, through her teenage years until she was an adult and her whole world cracked around her, and to see how she is processing this all. Also, all the relationships Bella was in were so unusual and taking into consideration the life she led, she was really brave letting new people into her life. The story felt even more intense as Bella was the narrator and we discovered all the things, all these secrets and lies together with her, at the same time, so they were the same surprise for her and for us. There are also chapters told from Henry Campbell’s point of view, which helps us a lot to understand everything. I relatively quickly guessed what happened to Bella when she was a child but still didn’t know the details and circumstances, and those chapters helped me a lot. But my guessing it didn’t mean that I was prepared for all the drama and twists that were to come and hit me around the head.
The other characters are a group of very different people and they are painted in such a way that you’re not sure if you can trust them or not. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t mean that you feel paranoid or you suspect everyone – no. It only means that they are great, complex, multi – layered characters that develop and learn all the time.
One thing more – I do usually spot the settings in the books, and I adore the details of the descriptions, but this time I couldn’t stop thinking how much the setting correspond with the atmosphere of the whole plot. Set mostly in St Ives in Cornwall, it was beautiful, but it was also haunting. The author has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of grim and used even the stormy and rainy weather to emphasize it.
I’m not sure if I would classify this book as a psychological thriller. Psychological for sure, but not thriller. Maybe drama? Not sure if such a genre exists at all, but it was for sure a family tragedy, full of tension and intrigue. The short chapters kept me on my toes, and thanks to them I had a feeling that the pace in this story is even faster than it was. What was also brilliant is that it didn’t drag on and that the secrets weren’t kept for ever – no, the reveals were well timed and believe me, I read a lot and there is not much that amazes or shocks me, but this time I was shocked more than once. The pacing of this story was great, and when you thought that you know everything, the author threw another surprise at your not expecting head, throwing you off guard.
But as much as it was an amazing book it didn’t wow me as much as I have expected. After reading some of the most incredible reviews I was expecting, and all the time waiting for, a moment that will blow me away, and it never come. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the book, the story, it was perfectly polished and really neatly wrapped up, the author didn’t leave you with questions open, so I think it is my fault, I was probably expecting impossible, and altogether, „In Her Wake” is a great account of a family relationships, about lies, secrets and living with guilt. It was chilling and disturbing and this kind of a book that make you think, and the author has made me doubt everything and everyone more than once. It was not an obvious read, it was complex and with many layers and what I liked most is the fact that the author didn’t judge the characters – she let the readers to make up their own mind about them and the situation. Moreover, for such a deep, complex books it reads effortlessly, thanks to Ms Jennings wonderful writing style. „In Her Wake” was a hooking story about how far a person can go in the name of love – heartbreaking, grim and taking your breath away. Highly recommended!