Title: The Storm
Author: Amanda Jennings
Date of publication: 23rd JULY 2020
Format reviewed: NetGalley e-ARC
Number of pages: 384
To the outside world Hannah married the perfect man. Behind the closed doors of their imposing home it’s a very different story. Nathan controls everything Hannah does. He chooses her clothes, checks her receipts, and keeps her passport locked away. But why does she let him? Years before, in the midst of a relentless storm, the tragic events of one night changed everything. And Hannah has been living with the consequences ever since. Keeping Nathan happy. Doing as she’s told.
But the past is about to catch up with them.
Set against the unforgiving backdrop of a Cornish fishing port in the ‘90s, this is a devastating exploration of the power of coercive control in a marriage where nothing is quite as it seems…
I chose to read The Storm without even taking a look at the blurb. Am I adventurous? Sometimes, but here, the reason is different. Amanda Jennings is an author I admire so much I trust her with my precious reading time. I didn’t need any information on The Storm to know I wanted to read it. Blind trust can be tricky. But oh, blind trust can feel so good!
Basing my feelings solely on the title, I was expecting a raging gash, crazy twists, winding roads leading to a dangerous edge. Chapters of intense action. I can’t say I didn’t get any of that. I received a different kind of all of this. The reader is standing in the eye of the storm. Everything around feels distorted, out-of-sync with the appearances. It is a strange feeling. Amanda Jennings always seep into my mind and before I know it, I’m ensnared, living the life of ordinary three-dimensional characters with a chilling story to tell.
The action is in the emotions. You can almost see them jostling for control of the protagonists, you are sitting front row to observe the inner threats and dangers the men and women in Amanda Jennings’ books battle with.
When I began reading The Storm, I felt disconnected from Hannah. In fact, she herself felt disconnected from her life! Even if I couldn’t fathom the reasons behind her choice to stick to her marriage despite having wed a terrible person, even if at first you could mistake Hannah and her husband Nathan for fat clichés, I was hooked. You see, there’s some genius spell in the author’s writing. Her astounding way of describing the most mundane events, sparkling it with the right amount of details so you feel there’s something more hiding under the surface, does the trick every single time! Amanda Jennings reeled me in and there I was, in the middle of the storm, not knowing we would all need to walk through it and if we’d make it to the other side.
So, Hannah is unhappily married. Nathan has full control over her life, and their son’s. I recognized the signs of a side of Hannah that told me I had only met the shadow of the woman. It was as if a coat of guilt prevented her from being herself, and this pretense of a happy marriage was her life sentence. But for what crime??? What would drive a woman to lose so much of herself?
Flashbacks to 1998 told me the answer would be back to play with her really soon, and I was right. The past never stays in the past, does it? The way the timelines intertwined felt like waves at large. I was thrown up and down, right from left, catching the salty air of the ocean and hints of a story larger than I expected.
Never does Nathan relent his control over his family. But as his fist clenches tighter and tighter, his grip seems to weaken. His controlling character made me see red. I remember cursing and swearing. I remember feeling sorry for Hannah and wanting to slap some sense into her. It is a difficult position as a reader. You can’t take control of the narrative. And here lies the big issue: control. But when the cards are finally dealt and it’s show time, who stands up?
Amanda Jennings’ account of a woman trapped in the past and making amends, or at least living the only life she thinks she deserves, is heart-wrenching. There is no melodramatic scenes. You get the violence, both physical and verbal. The silent threat, coming from Nathan but also from events from fifteen years ago. Hannah’s prison has two locks that connects. It’s painful, and I never stopped wishing she would find it in herself to forgive herself, and set fire to the house.
The Storm is a beautiful slow burner, mesmerizing like the flame of a match. You can’t stop watching until it burns your fingers. Here, I couldn’t stop reading until my heart bled. It is a pure emotional thriller.
I loved it!
You can grab your copy here now because the book is out!
HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY, dear Amanda! Never stop talking to my heart, please!
I would like to thank HQ for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for providing me with a copy of the novel via NetGalley. This review is my unbiased opinion.
If you want to read more about Amanda’s other work, you can find my review of In Her Wake.
Hello and welcome to my Author Page! So what do I write? Well, I love anything with a dark vein and secrets which affect families, and my books tend to fall into the psychological suspense category. The Storm is out in July and, like my last two books – In Her Wake and The Cliff House – it is set in Cornwall where my heart truly lies! My mother’s side of the family is from Penzance and I have many blissful memories of long summers spent here. I am never happier than when I’m beside the sea. I’m also fond of a mountain, especially when it’s got snow on it. When I’m not beside the sea or up a mountain or sitting at my desk, you can usually find me chatting on the radio as a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s weekly Book Club, or loitering on Twitter (@mandajjennings), Facebook and Instagram (@amandajennings1). I love meeting and engaging with readers, whether that’s on social media, or at libraries, book clubs and literary festivals. If you see me out and about at an event do say hello! What am I doing now? Well, I live just outside Henley-on-Thames with my husband, three daughters and an unruly menagerie of pets, and am currently writing my fifth book which will be published in 2020. You can find more information on my webpage: http://www.amandajennings.co.uk