Published April 2016 by Orenda Books
*My Book Club’s January Pick*
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’ve been thinking about how best to write this review without giving away any parts of the plot because as we bloggers so often say, this book is best read without knowing anything other than what’s in the blurb above. So, how to discuss what I feel is a quintessential psychological suspense novel? I’ll start by tossing out some adjectives that have been circling around in my head since I finished this book…compelling, haunting, atmospheric, heart wrenching, captivating…I’ll start with these. Any one of those (or all) can be used to describe this story. What begins as Bella’s search for identity after her devastating losses and betrayals soon becomes a journey of self discovery for many characters. As their lives connect, their stories will intertwine and I think you’ll be hard pressed to put this book down until you know if, when, and how they will all be resolved.
Bella’s journey takes us to Cornwall, a place I’ve never been but could vividly picture in my head thanks to the exquisite writing of Amanda Jennings. I can’t emphasize enough how the details of her writing will take you to the cliff’s edge with Bella as soon as she arrives, where you’ll smell the sea and feel the depth of her longing for answers as she looks down at the jagged rocks and breaking waves below and contemplates how it would feel to fall down into the water. What?! It was at this point I began to feel tense and started to worry…I feared that this was foreshadowing what Bella might return to do if her emotional turmoil became too great. As I was so invested in her journey by this time, I could only hope this didn’t turn out to be true.
To me, this is just one of the many facets of psychological suspense the author manages to create with her characterizations and setting details. In fact, there wasn’t any of the reader manipulations that seem to be present in other psychological thrillers lately , where it seems every character knows what’s going on and talks in circles so the reader (me) is left feeling like I’m the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on. In this story, I was there with Bella as she sought answers and struggled with knowing who to trust and how to move on. I was there when she meets Dawn, Alice, Mark, Greg, and even Phil the barista who quickly became one of my favorite characters. Side note: when an author can make you care about a secondary character like Phil you know you’ve struck gold. I have to say that while I truly felt for Bella, in the end , I found I was most connected to Dawn which was surprising because she’s rather unlikeable when you first meet her. Her story, however, is heart breaking and I wanted her to feel some measure of happiness. Will she? Will anyone in this saga achieve peace? Of course, you’ll have to read to find out.
If you’re looking for what I would call a classic tale of psychological suspense that pulls you in with captivating writing and characters you will care about then this book is for you. And for those of you needing a good twist to make your psychological thriller complete, the author delivers on that as well. I can’t wait to see what Amanda Jennings has in store for us with her next novel…I’ll be impatiently waiting!
Many, many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of In Her Wake. I’m happy to provide an honest review.