Review – The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings

By | July 27, 2014

Scars. We all carry them. Some are mere scratches. Others run deeper.

At a school rife with bullying, Will and his best friend Luke are involved in a horrific incident that results in Luke leaving.

Twenty-five years later their paths cross again and memories of Will’s painful childhood come flooding back to haunt him. His wife, Harmony, who is struggling after a miscarriage that has hit her hard, wishes Will would open up about his experiences. But while Will withdraws further, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic stranger from her husband s past, and soon all three are caught in a tangled web of guilt, desire, betrayal and revenge. 

Some of you who follow me on Twitter will remember my delight at producing a spreadsheet of all the books I need to read and when I need to read them.  I’m sure I hardly need to tell you that this book wasn’t on that list, despite all the excellent reviews I’d read and the fact that I’d actually liked the look of it so much that I’d bought the download. What finally made me pick it up (and how sad is this?) was the fact that I knew I’d be meeting the author at the launch party for Julie Cohen’s Where Love Lies last week – I’m delighted to report that, as well as being the loveliest of party companions, her book absolutely took my breath away.

The central characters are Will and Harmony – outwardly, their relationship looks like one that we’d all like to aspire to. When they married he made it clear that he didn’t want children, but when Harmony has a miscarriage she hopes that they will be able to try again.  Then Luke comes into their lives – firstly as an attractive stranger at a party, then we discover that he has a shared history (and what a history…) with Will, from when they were friends at a public school.  This is a story that swoops and turns, and we slowly discover the truth about that childhood relationship, and the scars it has left that profoundly affect the lives of the characters. 

This is a really gripping read, a book that puts your emotions through the wringer – it’s a book you won’t want to put down until you’ve read to the end, but one that you really have to put down just to catch your breath, and when you’re not reading it you’ll still be thinking about it.  It’s very dark, emotional and hard hitting – these are very real and damaged people, whose lives draw you in so completely that you feel their pain, grief and joy and look on in horror at some of the decisions they make. The scenes from the childhoods of both Harmony and Will are heartbreaking, and the bullying theme is just one of many that is wonderfully handled.   

I don’t really have to say “I absolutely loved it”, do I? If you haven’t read this one, and you like your reading to take over your life and shake you to the core, give it a try. As for me, I’m just adding Amanda’s earlier book, Sworn Secret, to my spreadsheet…

The Judas Scar was published by Cutting Edge Press on 1 May, and is available in paperback and for Kindle.  There are some more excellent reviews from blogger friends – do have a look at Random Things Through My Letterbox, Crooks on Books and Liz Loves Books.

Amanda Jennings read History of Art at Cambridge and after university set up a copywriting business with a friend. She has also worked as a researcher at the BBC. She is a very active user of social media and also has an excellent blog. She is married with three daughters and lives in Henley.