Monday 5 November 2018

Review | The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings

Published by HQ on May 17, 2018

The Cliff House is beautifully atmospheric right from the start and this lured me into the prose and had me engrossed in the book from page one. Amanda Jennings' fourth novel is a one-more-chapter kind of read and when I did have to put the book down I couldn't wait to pick it back up again. All of Amanda's books have differed in style but I love how each time I pick up one of her books I am completely taken in and each one feels even better than the last one. The Cliff House drew me in as the haunting Cornwall setting came to life on the pages.

The author delivers a powerful portrait of grief within the characters of Tamsyn and her mother, brother Jago and grandfather. Each one of them is experiencing grief differently and it is thought-provoking and at times chilling to discover the depths to the grief and obsession observed within the pages of this brilliant book. From wanting to make the missing piece of their family proud, to wanting to keep their memories and dreams alive, and all the little intricacies in between, the characters in this book and their feelings are very believable and well drawn.

The Cliff House itself is central to the obsession and longing in this book. To sixteen year old Tamsyn, the house on the cliff's edge, which she keeps a close eye on through her binoculars, is the place which reminds her of her dad, who she is grieving for. It is a place where she feels like she is close to him, but it is also the place where the Davenports live, and they fascinate Tamsyn. To Tamsyn, they are the perfect family. When she meets Edie Davenport, she can't understand why she isn't made up with her life. She's living in this fantastic property with her two alive-and-well parents, and though they befriend each other, Tamsyn cannot see the imperfections in the Davenport's lives that Edie sees.

I loved how the lives of Tamsyn and Edie intertwined and how as the reader I could observe the Davenport family along with Tamsyn whilst picking up on the not-so-perfect things about them that she doesn't seem to notice. The author shows that whilst you may think you know what other people's lives are like from the outside, everybody feels things differently and Tamsyn's impression of the Davenport family from obsessing over them wasn't the same as it felt actually living as a member of the family in the Cliff House.

Tension is evocatively built in this novel and it was an absolutely fascinating book which lead to the bags under my eyes as I spent a few nights awake thinking about everything I'd read. There was a haunting feel to The Cliff House. I couldn't get enough of the Cornwall setting and how the author builds it up so vividly that you feel the crashing of the waves and the lingering of the ravens as you read it. The suspense builds beautifully throughout and with it, the anticipation to see how everything ends also crept up on me as I was running out of pages in the book left to read. As with all of this author's books, I would highly recommend the read. The Cliff House is a lingering, unsettling and breathtakingly good book.

Many thanks to HQ for sending me a copy of The Cliff House to review.

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