#BookReview Dear Child by Romy Hausmann trans. by Jamie Bulloch @Flatironbooks

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Dear Child by Romy Hausmann, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch. My thanks to Claire at Flatiron Books for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital review copy via NetGalley. Dear Child will be published in the U.S. on 6th October 2020 by Flatiron and is available for pre-order now. It was published in the UK by Quercus on 13th May 2020 and is available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook format.

Dear Child Romy HausmannAbout the Book

A windowless shack in the woods. A dash to safety. But when a woman finally escapes her captor, the end of the story is only the beginning of her nightmare.

She says her name is Lena. Lena, who disappeared without a trace 14 years prior. She fits the profile. She has the distinctive scar. But her family swears that she isn’t their Lena.

The little girl who escaped the woods with her knows things she isn’t sharing and Lena’s devastated father is trying to piece together details that don’t quite fit. Lena is desperate to begin again but something tells her that her tormentor still wants to get back what belongs to him…and that she may not be able to truly escape until the whole truth about what happened in the woods finally emerges.

Format: eARC (352 pages)                           Publisher (US): Flatiron Books
Publication date (US): 6th October 2020 Genre: Thriller

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Pre-order/Purchase links*
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My Review

Told from a number of different points of view, Dear Child is a twisty, suspenseful page-turner that it’s well nigh impossible to say much about without spoiling the experience for potential readers. It features many of the elements you expect to find in the psychological thriller genre whilst still seeming fresh and original. This is especially the case with one of the narrators whose voice combines innocence and a slightly chilling precision.

The storyline encompasses abduction, imprisonment and coercive control but the author chooses to major on the psychological impact of their experiences on those involved. For example, the strains on the relationship of husband and wife, Matthias and Karin, caused by the disappearance of their daughter Lena many years ago. It’s not just the despair they endure at not knowing what happened to her, or the false hopes that come to nothing but the effect of press intrusion and speculation.

Dear Child is one of those books where you can try to work out the final destination or just sit back and experience the literary equivalent of a mystery ride. In the end, I chose the latter and for a lot of the time I could identify with one of the characters who observes, “I try to arrange the pieces, but the meaning defeats me“. But, as with a jigsaw, there’s always a sense of satisfaction when the final piece is put in place.

In three words: Dark, intense, suspenseful

Try something similar: The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl

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Romy HausmannAbout the Author

Romy Hausmann was born in East Germany in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in television.

Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart. (Photo credit: Astrid Eckert)

#BookReview The Storm by Amanda Jennings @HQStories

9780008287061About the Book

To the outside world Hannah married the perfect man. Behind the closed doors of their imposing house 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 every since. Keeping Nathan happy. Doing as she’s told.

But the past is about to catch up with them…

Format: ebook (412 pages)            Publisher: HQ Stories
Publication date: 23rd July 2020 Genre: Contemporary fiction, thriller

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Purchase links*
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*links provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

I really enjoyed Amanda Jennings’ previous book, The Cliff House, and her beloved Cornwall is once again the location for her latest novel, The Storm. Set mainly around the fishing village of Newlyn and moving between the present day and twenty years earlier, the reader witnesses how the lives of a number of people were changed by the dramatic events of one night in 1998. Fragments of that eventful night are glimpsed in the prologue but the full picture will not become clear until the end of the book.

For Hannah, the events of that night led to her marriage to Nathan, a kind of Faustian bargain she entered into to protect others. Nathan’s obsessive jealousy has seen him control every aspect of Hannah’s life. She steels herself to complicity in this out of guilt – “Our marriage is punishment for what I did” – and for the sake of their son, Alex. So she plays the part expected of her and recites her lines in order to keep the peace. Alex is pretty much the only source of joy in Hannah’s life along with her best friend, Vicky.

Nathan is one disturbing individual. Outwardly he’s a model citizen and pillar of the community, but inside he’s something quite different. As Hannah remarks, he’s “my very own Jekyll and Hyde”. A damaged individual, a traumatic event in Nathan’s childhood explains, if not excuses, his actions towards Hannah.

In the scenes set in 1998, the author vividly depicts the back-breaking work of the six-man crew aboard a small trawler and the dangers they face on a daily basis. Taking such risks out of economic necessity, a safe return to harbour is never guaranteed but when it occurs, the crew seek release through drink, and sometimes drugs, in the local pub. When the Atlantic storm of the title hits the trawler, the awesome force of the sea is evident. “Six men, no more than specks of dust on an ocean so powerful and unpredictable, so savage, they could be swallowed up in the blink of an eye.” The consequences of the storm will change lives forever.

I’m not sure which element I found more compelling: the chilling portrait of Hannah and Nathan’s toxic relationship or the scenes set on the storm-lashed trawler.  The Storm is an intensely atmospheric and compelling drama that shows even the most carefully guarded secrets have a way of coming to the surface. The final lines sent chills down my spine.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of HQ Stories via NetGalley.

In three words: Dark, intense, gripping

Try something similar: The Other You by J. S. Monroe

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Amanda JenningsAbout the Author

Amanda Jennings lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, three daughters, and a menagerie of animals. She studied History of Art at Cambridge and before writing her first book, was a researcher at the BBC.

With a deep fascination for the far-reaching effects of trauma, her books focus on the different ways people find to cope with loss, as well as the moral struggles her protagonists face. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found walking the dog. Her favourite place to be is up a mountain or beside the sea.

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