I completed a book tag a few weeks ago where I was asked if I had a treasured book and I was hard-pressed to choose one, ask me again today and I’ll tell you I do have one and it’s called Seas of Snow. I think there’s quite a lovely story behind me reading this book, for me anyway. This book was published by Unbound, a crowding funding publisher, and I pledged towards the publication of this book, however, when it arrived I was scared to read it. I’d convinced myself I loved it before it was even published, even promoting it in several of my blog posts; so, when it arrived I was so nervous in case I didn’t enjoy it. I delayed reading it for so long, my nerves even transferred to the author who was anxious to hear my thoughts. Eventually I plucked up the courage to read it….
From the inside cover:
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 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, you 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.