The Storm by Amanda Jennings: Page-turning, evocative and addictive thriller - book review -

When Hannah married handsome lawyer Nathan Cardew and moved into his imposing house in Cornwall, everyone thought she had found her perfect man.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 12:30 pm
The Storm
The Storm

When Hannah married handsome lawyer Nathan Cardew and moved into his imposing house in Cornwall, everyone thought she had found her perfect man.

But appearances are deceptive because, behind closed doors, Nathan controls every aspect of Hannah’s life and she seems willing to let him… until the past collides with the present, and everything changes forever.

Amanda Jennings, who turned heads with her bestselling debut Sworn Secret and has since written acclaimed novels, The Judas Scar, In her Wake and The Cliff House, makes a welcome return to the corner of the country she loves best for a dark and devastating tale of sacrifice, duplicity, jealousy and possession.

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Jennings has a self-confessed fascination with family life, the far-reaching effects of trauma, and the different ways people cope with loss. And in this superbly written, perfectly paced domestic drama, events play out against the gritty and atmospheric backdrop of a Cornish fishing port in the 1990s.

To the outside world, 18th century Trevose House near Newlyn in Cornwall is grand and undeniably beautiful but to Hannah Cardew, who lives there with husband Nathan and teenage son Alex, it’s a place full of gruesome memories where ‘disquiet ferments in its shadows and the air inside is heavy.’

For the past fifteen years, Hannah has been playing a game of pretend because her ‘perfect husband’ is a control freak who rules her with a rod of iron… her ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ husband chooses her clothes, checks her receipts, keeps her passport locked away in a safe, and has isolated her from her friends and family.

And it all stems back to 1998 when Hannah was working in her father’s bakery in Newlyn and she fell in love with local fisherman Cam Stewart. But another man had fallen for her… Nathan Cardew knew Hannah was ‘the one’ for him as soon as he set eyes on her and he was determined that she would be his.

But in the midst of a relentless stormy night, a series of tragic events turned her world upside down and Hannah has been living with the consequences ever since. Now she can’t tell anyone the truth because the fall-out would be devastating.

So for now, she keeps Nathan happy and does as she’s told… but the past is catching up and the truth can’t be hidden any more.

The Storm is a simmering, slow-burn chiller-thriller, tingling with menace, suspense and foreboding, as readers are drawn into the lies and secrets of one stormy night which became the catalyst for the destructive relationship between Hannah and Nathan.

Guilt, shame and mental manipulation all have parts to play in Jennings’ powerful, claustrophobic tale which explores the dark side of marriage and the cruelties of coercive control against a superbly portrayed landscape of a small Cornish fishing community with its rugged clifftops and perilous seas.

But as we weave between past and present, and the narrative voices of Hannah, Nathan and Cam, the disturbing truth of events in 1998 is slowly revealed and the tensions and toxicity of relationships at Trevose House are ramped up to increasingly dangerous levels.

Nothing is what it seems in this page-turning, evocative and addictive thriller, and with a jaw-dropping surprise as its final, unforgettable flourish, The Storm is one of this summer’s unmissable reads.

(HQ, paperback, £7.99)