Review by The Mole
Jenni is a ghost writer who does it because she loves writing and the anonymity that ghost writing affords her. She has a secret that she has carried as a burden since she was a child 25 years ago, that has been eating away at her life and now it is starting to take the biggest bite yet. Then she agrees to ghost write a friend's mother's story only to find out she must travel to the source of her burden. There she finds she is not the only one with a dark secret weighing them down.
This book started darkly and continued that way. Friction between Jenni and her boyfriend feels like it escalates and overshadows Jenni's life and then she gets to Polvarth and she starts to hear ghosts from her past and suspects everyone she sees. When we start to hear Klara's tale of her time on Java both on the plantation and in the prison camps the story gets even darker as we hear graphic tales of the brutality and cruelty which was levelled at the prisoners. We also learn that Klara has her own secret, just as dark as Jenni's.
This story has two distinct threads to it: (1) the tale of the two women's secrets; (2) the story of the camps and the many horrors that the prisoners endured. While the thread of their secrets is a dark one it is also easier to read than the horrific story of the camps but either without the other would damage the relevance of the other - they do sort of complement each other and make each other infinitely more readable. Descriptions of life in the camps had a frightening sense of authenticity about them that really came home to me.
You could use the cliché 'emotional roller coaster' but that means there are highs and lows - it would be more accurate to say that we start off going down one side of a dark valley to the dismal floor and then start climbing out the other side but do we end up on the sunnyside of the hill or are we still in shadow? You must read for yourself to find out but I will admit that I did love the non-fairy tale ending.
A really good book even though 'enjoyable' may not be entirely accurate. I am glad I read this one from the TBR pile.
Publisher - Harper Collins (Harper)
Genre - Adult fiction