Seas of Snow….
A story of broken trust and shattered dreams..
Of a life lifted and liberated by poetry…
Of a life haunted by darkness and lived in fear.’
Seas of Snow is the debut novel from Kerensa Jennings. Originally published on March 7th 2017, I was very lucky to receive a copy and review it at that time. I’m thrilled to be joining Kerensa on tour today, celebrating the paperback publication of this incredible debut, a book that has garnered many well-deserved 5* reviews. I have a wonderful guest post from Kerensa about dreams coming true and, for those of you who missed it first time around, I am re-sharing my review.
‘Seas of Snow is a novel that is, as described, bleak and at times does make for very uncomfortable reading. Yet with the use of a very strong poetic narrative, the reader is taken on a journey exploring the loss of innocence in a manner that will leave your heart broken and so saddened by the inhumanity of the tale.’
Please do read on for more…
A Dream Come True
by Kerensa Jennings
It’s hard to begin to explain how much it has meant to me becoming a published author. It’s like a dream come true.
A book is physical, tangible, tactile. It is a thing of legacy. It can exist forever.
I have been creating content all my life… little stories and verses when I was small… then when I was older, professionally making television programmes and videos… my words have been read out loud by some of the world’s most famous and celebrated presenters. And they have, over the years, entertained and informed many, many millions of people. But no-one knew who wrote the words…. Same thing with some of the strategies I’ve designed; and even in my current job where I run a company but am the behind-the-scenes wind beneath the wings. I have tended to be somewhat invisible with respect to the public because all of my roles have been somewhat backstage.
Having my book published was the first time something was ‘out there’ very explicitly with my name attached. Getting SEAS OF SNOW published was, I think, the proudest moment of my life. I would define myself as a storyteller. Writing is my core craft and passion. I was incredibly anxious and scared about whether people would like my writing; and whether they would understand where I was coming from.
The subject matter and themes are challenging and upsetting. Part of my reason for writing it was to try to give victims of abuse ‘permission’ to feel they are not at fault, not to blame. I was not sure how people would respond to it. Whether they would see my intent and appreciate the integrity of my feelings and experience. Fast forward a year on and I am overwhelmed how many people have contacted me to thank me, and say how much SEAS OF SNOW has meant to them, who have suffered abuse themselves, or supported victim who are friends or family who have suffered. It’s just incredible and I feel so blessed that people are responding the way they are.
The other aspect that made me anxious was wondering how people would respond to the writing. It’s a hybrid genre which is crime fiction in some respects, a psychological thriller in others, and unashamedly literary in others, with references to poetry and literature. The story centres around a little girl and what happens when a bad man enters her life. She escapes the traumas and torments of her life with playtime and poetry. It’s not necessarily what you expect when you pick up a thriller or classic crime novel.
A year on, I am so proud and happy that my publisher and distributor Unbound and Penguin have decided to release the paperback edition. We’ve had more than 130 five-star reviews around the world on Amazon – it’s simply amazing. I’ve been indescribably moved by what people have written.
I am thrilled that you are re-posting your beautiful review as part of the #SeasOfSnow paperback launch book blog tour, Mairead, to give people who might have missed it last time around the chance to read your responses to the book. Thank you so, so much. I hope anyone who has not had the chance to read it might see your review and put it on their #TBR!
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.
Purchase Link ~ Seas of Snow
My Review (Re-posted for tour)
I received an email some time back from the lovely Vanessa Fox O’ Loughlin of writing.ie if I would be interested in reading and reviewing a debut novel that sounded quite interesting. After reading the information on both the writer Kerensa Jennings and the information on the book, I decided that here was a novel I could NOT refuse.
I opened the packaging it arrived in and was immediately struck by the starkness yet beauty of the cover. The claws of the raven and the claws of the bath feet immediately invoked an eerie feeling in my bones and I knew this book was going to be very very different indeed.
Seas of Snow is a story of the lost innocence of a little girl called Gracie Scott. Gracie lives with her mum in a small estate in 1950’s Tyneside. Society is recovering from the aftermath of the war as the horrors fade somewhat into the background. Life is for the living and folk are trying to get on with their lives. It’s not uncommon for women to be on their own with children, as many of the menfolk lost their lives, so no one raises an eye when Gracie and her mother move in to their accommodation alone.
Gracie soon makes friends with Billy, the little boy next door. Their’s is a friendship where dragons and princesses are the norm. They both escape into this fantasy world where nothing bad can happen, nobody can hurt them.
For Billy though that’s all it really is…..a game. But for Gracie this escapism is a necessity. Gracie is an introverted character in school preferring books to the company of other kids. As a result she is oft times picked on and bullied. It is at these early stages that Gracie begins to think about herself as being at fault.
‘Dear God, I don’t know why I am here I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. But please let me out of here, please, please, please.’Gracie age 8.
As Gracie suffers further from the bullies at school she immerses herself in the written word, particularly poetry.
In Seas of Snow, Kerensa Jennings introduces the reader to the familiar, Wordsworth and the not so familiar, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Rilke, widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets (Ref : Poetry Foundation), provides Gracie with a sense of comfort. It’s as though his words are meant for her. For one so young, Gracie has an awareness of the world around her and is sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, especially her mother.
But Gracie’s world is soon to be tainted in the most abhorrent manner possible. Her Uncle Joe arrives to their home and for Gracie, it is as though the wicked King has arrived into her fairy-tale world. No longer the safe-haven she could lose herself in, Joe carries an evilness within that he spreads before him where ever he goes.
Now for many readers, this is where the book will prove a difficult obstacle to move beyond. Kerensa Jennings takes us into the mind of both Joe and Gracie as scenes are played out with such horrifying detail. Joe idealises his actions and sees no wrong in what he does. Gracie is a child with her innocence about to be destroyed and the pure raw horror in all her thoughts and actions is evident in every word on the page.
Seas of Snow, as a title, symbolises even more than its name suggests. As I was tweeting one day, I suddenly registered the initials of the book S.O.S. Gracie Scott, a character in a book, is calling out for our help. Gracie Scott is a young girl who is exposed to the most demonic character I think I have ever read in a novel. Joe is evil personified. His actions, his mannerisms, his thoughts, all made me sick to the core. I was extremely outside my comfort zone reading the scenes of the psychotic reflections of a maniac yet I persisted. Why? Through her work as editor with the BBC News, Kerensa Jennings was involved in the coverage of the Soham murder case. Her first hand experiences were inspirational in writing this debut. Ian Huntley, an apparently ‘normal’ person, was capable of such unspeakable acts of violence.
This is real.
This is the society we now live in.
Seas of Snow is a novel filled with a wonderfully structured narrative, where beautiful verses of poetry are interspersed with completely repulsive scenes.This is a distressing read but yet I was drawn to the story. I so wanted to be the one to answer Gracie’s S.O.S. and save her from the monster who was out to destroy her.
It’s a book I most certainly recommend but with a warning. Seas of Snow is not for the faint-hearted and this book will affect you. The story of little Gracie Scott is the story of many in our society. Can we turn our backs on them or do we look out for their cries for help, their S.O.S.??
Author Bio Kerensa Jennings
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.”