‘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. Published on March 7th 2017, this 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.
I received my copy from the author and this is my unbiased and voluntary review. I also have a very exciting giveaway over on my facebook page so please do continue reading for further details…
This is the tale of Gracie Scott, who becomes fascinated by the work of Rainer Maria Rilke and delights in his words for guidance and succour.
But when her psychopath uncle Joe enters her life, is poetry enough?
Alternating between contemporary North Tyneside and around the time of World War Two, Seas of Snow dances through time, backwards and forwards between the literary reveries and troubles of the young girl, and the old woman of today, frail and isolated in a nursing home.
Seas of Snow is a bleak psychological thriller about trust and betrayal told with a distinctive and complex narrative voice
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.??
Purchase Link ~ Seas of Snow
Kerensa has very kindly put together a fabulous prize, including a signed hardback copy of Seas of Snow and some beautiful stationary.
In order to be in with a chance to win this fabulous prize, all you have to do is pop over to my Facebook page and like & share my PINNED post following the link below.
I wish you all the very best of luck and the winner will be announced on Friday 26th May so get liking/sharing…
Kerensa is a storyteller, strategist , writer and TV producer. Over twenty years working in the media, her highlights have included being programme editor of Sir David Frost’s ‘Breakfast with Frost’ and playing a central role in creating the BBC’s pan-UK digital campaign ‘Make it Digital’. Her journalism work with Cambridgeshire Police sparked her interest in the psychological profile of psychopaths. This in turn led her to study psychology and train as an Executive Coach and MBTI practitioner.
When she’s not writing strategy papers and designing campaigns, she can be found, digital quill in hand, penning poetry and fiction.
Seas of Snow is the first of three literary psychological thrillers inspired by Kerensa’s work in the field.
Twitter ~ @zinca