Tuesday 17 June 2014

Review ~ Sworn Secret by Amanda Jennings.

Title: Sworn Secret.
Author: Amanda Jennings.
Publisher: Canvas (Constable & Robinson).
Release Date: August 16, 2012.
Source: Bought.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

When Anna, Lizzie Thorne's charismatic sister, is killed in a tragic fall from the roof of her school, her family is devastated. One year on and grief still has a hold on them.

Kate, Anna’s mother, has retreated from her family and is desperate to find someone to blame for her daughter’s death. Her father, Jon, is doing his best to care for his family but the pressure of holding his marriage together is pushing him to breaking point. Amid her parents' turmoil, Lizzie, Anna’s younger sister, just wants to leave her sister’s ghost in the past and find happiness again.

But then a devastating revelation begins to raise questions concerning what really happened the night Anna died. Whilst Kate and Jon grapple with Anna’s emerging secrets, Lizzie dives headlong into a passionate, but forbidden, first love affair.

As the family battle to regain their footing they realise it’s the love they have for each other that has the power to finally heal them.

Sworn Secret is a highly-emotive novel, enthralling and a stunning piece of writing. Amanda has written complex characters suffering from a devastating experience, but written with no fear, this is a wonderful, transfixing novel.

Kate and Jon, a year on from the death of their daughter Anna, are still destroyed with grief, struggling to accept the loss of their child. Lizzie, Anna’s sister, is broken too but as she tries to get on with her life with a new relationship, secrets are revealed and the family’s suffering continues.

The character development was brilliant. Regardless of the judgments you make on them all, each one has their own little story, their own issues and when they combine and things unfold, Sworn Secret was very emotional and an extraordinary novel. The characters weren’t blessed with making the best choices but I couldn’t help but feel for them. Losing a daughter or a sister, at the age Anna was, doesn’t bear thinking about and alongside Jon’s dad who has Alzheimer’s and Lizzie, hitting her rebellious age, nothing was easy for this family as they tried to stop themselves being torn apart any further.

A lot of the themes in the novel are serious and hard-hitting, but they weren’t just thrown in the story for the sake of it. Everything felt plausible despite how uncomfortable it might be to imagine. This is where the author’s intelligent writing excels because she makes a difficult, painful plot realistic yet readable. As tough as the scenes in the novel were, it’s so gripping and impossible to not need to read to the end.

The twists in Sworn Secret played out perfectly. The first one shocked me and then each further twist took me by surprise and changed my whole outlook on the story. Just when I thought I knew where things were heading, Amanda completely changed things up and I just love her style of writing.

This book tackles some horrific issues but I absolutely loved it. I found nothing to dislike about this novel - its powerful, moving plot and the flawless characterisation combined with Amanda’s fantastic way of writing made this a complete stand-out for me. Sworn Secret hooked me with a spectacular opening chapter and nothing that followed disappointed, instead confirming my belief that Amanda Jennings is capable of countless, brilliant novels which I simply can’t fault.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

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