I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the blog tour, celebrating the paperback release of Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings. This book is very special to me, I first discovered it on Unbound, and pledged towards its publication, I then followed its journey through to hardback print, read it, fell in love with it and recently, hosted the cover reveal for the paperback edition. So, to come full circle [so to speak], it’s only fitting I share my review with you all again as part of the blog tour celebrating the paperback release.
Seas of Snow is available in paperback now, I guarantee you won’t regret reading it!
1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.
As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.
But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?
Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.
Seas of Snow is exceptional.
Lyrical. Haunting. Emotive. Devastatingly beautiful.
“She couldn’t bring herself to call him uncle – that would have been as much a lie as calling this house a home.”
Forgive me, I’m about to get all caught up in my feelings. I don’t want to elaborate too much on the book description above as I think it says all you need to know before reading this one. I will briefly say, there are many strands to this story: the friendship of Gracie and Billy, uncle Joe’s reign of terror upon everyone he meets, Gracie’s hope that one day this terror will end, her seeking comfort in poetry and at a young age trying to make sense of evil. Importantly, we also see [an older] Billy attempt to make sense of the unspeakable horrors his best friend endured. Seas of Snow is emotionally intense and will take you through a range of emotions; anger, hatred, sadness, pity, sorrow, happiness, and most strongly – the longing to save a child. And that child is Gracie, an innocence so mercilessly destroyed, your heart aches. Even the title of this book is emotionally charged – ‘seas of snow’ is a haunting metaphor and you need to read this book to find out why.
With descriptive writing of physical and sexual abuse, this brutally honest book lays bare to us the violent acts of one man with evil at his core. There’s also so much unsaid in these encounters and this makes this book even more emotionally charged, almost like it’s too painful to say it. At times, this book was so emotionally charged, I had to pause reading to put the pieces of my heart back together, that’s how powerful Jenning’s writing is. And the plot twists were shocking and heart-stopping! So cleverly written, so realistic, if it weren’t for Gracie’s happy moments with her mum and Billy, I may just have been a quivering wreck. Seas of Snow grabs not only your full, undivided attention, but your heart too, and it never loosens its grip.
The contrast of how happy Gracie is when she is with Billy compared to the viciousness of Joe – prose-wise this book reads with the beauty of a fairy tale, but the content is much bleaker. Jennings has crafted a dark tale of what happens when evil is a part of your family, in the 1950’s, families did not speak out and seek help, Seas of Snow is the consequences.
This is a book that when you read the last pages, it’s not the end, you stay thinking about this one – a very special book that I highly recommend everyone reads regardless of your genre preferences. This book crosses genres; it is a literary work of art. I give Seas of Snow the highest praise, the thought-provoking nature, the look at the darker side of humanity, the honesty in the narration, the depth of the plot, the emotional connection to the extremely well-developed characters, the intelligent plot twist, the poetry, the rare beauty in so much sadness.
A book I will forever treasure.
*I purchased the hardback copy of this book and it was my pleasure to be a part of the blog tour hosted by Caroline @ Bits about Books*
Kerensa Jennings is a storyteller, strategist, writer, producer and professor. Kerensa’s TV work took her all over the world, covering everything from geo-politics to palaeontology, and her time as Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost coincided with the life-changing events of 9/11. The knowledge and experience she gained in psychology by qualifying and practising as an Executive Coach has only deepened her fascination with exploring the interplay between nature and nurture and with investigating whether evil is born or made – the question at the heart of Seas of Snow. As a scholar at Oxford, her lifelong passion for poetry took flight. Kerensa lives in West London and over the last few years has developed a career in digital enterprise.
IN HER OWN WORDS…
“I’ve been writing stories and poems ever since I was a little girl. Although it’s taken me a long time to get around to writing a book, I’m lucky enough to have had a long career in the media as a TV producer, writing television programmes. Most of the time viewers would have had no idea who I was, but my words have informed, educated and entertained millions over the years. I produced, directed, wrote for and worked with some of the most amazing people including Nelson Mandela, Sir David Frost (I was Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost), Sir David Attenborough, Fiona Bruce, Sian Williams, James Nesbitt, George Alagiah and Rory Bremner. I moved away from programme making to strategy and became the BBC’s Head of Strategic Delivery where I designed and delivered strategies for the Corporation, including a significant digital strategy (BBC Make it Digital). I now run The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award.
I’ve always used literature, and poetry in particular, for solace and escape. I happen to think literature is probably the best self-help on the planet! You can fly into other worlds and find ways through writing to make sense of life. SEAS of SNOW draws together some of my passions and fascinations in life. While I was at university, I studied the psychoanalysis of fairy tales and got very interested in archetypes and the way characters and stories of good and evil are portrayed.
While leading the BBC News coverage of the Soham investigation, I had the opportunity to see first-hand a lot of evidence about the mind and motives of a psychopath. So in SEAS of SNOW, the protagonist Gracie uses poetry and playtime to escape the traumas and abuses of her life; the antagonist, her Uncle Joe, is a bad man, a psychopath; and there is a subtext of fairy tale underlying the page-turning scenario which hopefully makes you want to read while half covering your eyes.”
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