Tuesday 18 February 2014

Review ~ The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes

6 February 2014

Following a devastating personal tragedy, Alex Morris returns to Edinburgh to take up a teaching post in a unit for troubled teenagers. The work is as challenging as it is difficult, and at first Alex despairs of ever making a connection with a particularly demanding group of five young people who seem intent on making her life even more miserable. By using a series of Greek tragedies, which mimic events in their own lives, Alex starts to build a connection. However, the stories of spiteful fate and malicious revenge soon start to have a profound effect on the dynamics of the group.

What then follows is a deeply disturbing psychological drama which builds imperceptibly and which soon becomes all consuming. There is a real rapport with Alex who is vulnerable and delicate, and whose tenacity in dealing with her personal emotional pain quickly becomes the driving force of the novel. However, the teenagers are a force to be reckoned with, they are all deeply offensive in many ways, and yet each demonstrates a susceptibility which is heartbreaking. The story doesn’t pull any punches and some strong profanities litter the dialogue between the students and Alex, however, these are integral to the plot and add necessary vibrancy and realism.

The gradual layering of the narrative is skilfully achieved, the tension is expertly managed and the dénouement is cleverly crafted. Overall, this is a commendable and exciting debut novel, and I am sure that reading groups are going to be clamouring to read it.

My thanks to Guy and Mel at Newbooks for my copy of this book.

This review can be found in March/April NB issue 80 - out now!



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