I’m delighted today to be sharing my review of The Feud by Amanda James, published on 15th April by Bloodhound Books, available as an e-book and paperback: the ecopy I read was purchased, and my own (and if you’d like to do the same, the kindle version is currently just 99p).
It’s no great secret, I think, that the author and I go back quite a long way, from the days when I reviewed – and loved – her first time travel book, A Stitch in Time (goodness, 2013 – you’ll still find that review here). I’ve always loved her writing (and Mandy herself is rather lovely too!) – I particularly enjoyed Summer in Tintagel (review here), a combination of her earlier quirky style and the thriller writer who had begun to emerge in my personal favourite, Somewhere Beyond the Sea (review here). I haven’t managed to read any of her books since she joined Bloodhound Books – a combination of life’s pressures and the fact that thrillers are not often the genre I choose to read. But I was intrigued by this one – and decided it might just be time to try her writing once more…
When secrets run deep, revenge will surface…
Matthew Trevelyar leaves his job in London to return to his Cornish roots in the village of St Agnes. After losing his wife to leukaemia, he wants to make a fresh start.
His new life is going well until Matt returns to his cottage to discover a grim warning on his doorstop. The message is clear – Leave now and go back to London.
Not wanting to give up his new life, Matt eventually discovers that there has been a 200-year-old feud between his family, the Trevelyars, and another local family, the Penhallows.
When Matt learns that one of his ancestors burned down a barn belonging to the Penhallows, and that there were tragic consequences, he understands why his family name is mud. But why is Matt paying for the sins of his ancestors now? And is there more to the feud than meets the eye?
While Matt moves to the Cornish village of St Agnes hoping for a fresh start, escaping the sadness of his loss, he most certainly never expected to be subjected to an escalating campaign of revenge and hatred that threatens his life. It was a really refreshing change to see a male main character and viewpoint – and I very much liked Matt with his wry humour as the events that befall him become increasingly bizarre and threatening.
There’s a love story here – not with predatory fellow teacher Jess (an excellent character, a touch over-the-top but totally believable), but with artist Lavender. But Lavender’s a Penhallow, and Matt’s a Trevelyar – and the book’s dramatic opening scenes have already shown us the long-standing enmity between the two families. But the current campaign is inspired by a rather more recent “wrong”, something more personal – and its twisted and evil perpetrator will stop at nothing to ensure that Matt’s days at St Agnes are numbered.
I do suspect this book might have more appeal for readers of romantic suspense than a fan of hard-edged thrillers, but that’s in no way a criticism of a story, full of unexpected twists and turns and more than a touch of evil manipulation that I found compelling. The writing is excellent, the author a superb story-teller, the pacing absolutely spot-on as the early warnings increase in danger and threat and become something considerably more dangerous.
I began by being intrigued, a little aghast at the extent of hatred and manipulation – and the tension continues to build, the atmosphere thickens, and the dramatic scenes that follow are both shocking and gripping. The twist in the story towards its end is cleverly done – and all the better for being entirely unexpected.
And I particularly enjoyed the setting – vividly described, a strong sense of place, the small Cornish village where stories spread in an instant by word-of-mouth, peopled with eccentric and well-drawn lesser characters, the shadow of past history, and the touch of everyday witchery.
I’m really pleased to have tried the author’s writing again. Although I’ll admit this was a book I wouldn’t usually be attracted to, I very much like the direction her writing has taken – this was an engrossing story told with confidence and great assurance, but still with those original and quirky touches that have always distinguished her writing.
About the author
Amanda James has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true.
Amanda has written many short stories and has ten novels currently published. Her time travelling debut, A Stitch in Time, was published in April of 2013 and met with great success.
Amanda lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the beautiful coastline near her home. Five suspense/mystery novels are set there: Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel, Behind the Lie, Another Mother, and Rip Current.
Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.