*** - The Haven
THE HAVEN AMANDA JENNINGS ***
It was meant to be paradise…
Winterfall Farm, spectacular and remote, stands over Bodmin Moor. Wanting an escape from the constraints of conventional life, Kit and Tara move to the isolated smallholding with their daughter, Skye, and a group of friends. Living off-grid and working the land, they soon begin to enjoy the fruits of their labour amid the breathtaking beauty and freedom of the moor.
At first this new way of life seems too good to be true, but when their charismatic leader, Jeremy, returns from a mysterious trip to the city with Dani, a young runaway, fractures begin to appear. As winter approaches, and with it cold weather and dark nights, Jeremy's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. Rules are imposed, the outside world is shunned, and when he brings a second girl back to the farm, tensions quickly reach breaking point with devastating consequences…
I enjoy reading stories and hearing true-life tales of cults - the idea of power in the wrong hands and the disintegration of a social group dynamic is fascinating. I was therefore excited to receive the ARC for The Haven by Amanda Jennings.
This story is very much a character driven piece, focused around Tara and Kit who leave their busy life behind to set up a commune with their best friend Jeremy. The story is built up well – we get flashbacks into their past to learn more about their friendships and how their relationship started. This then expands into day-to-day life around the commune before building to a fast-paced and gripping ending. Although this worked well to establish the characters, I did think it made for a very slow build and the middle part of the book did drag a little for me.
I also thought the character of Jeremy felt a little under-developed. Although the idea of a charismatic man who slowly takes the leadership role and corrupts the commune by bringing in young woman from the streets is creepy and interesting, I didn’t feel that we really got to know Jeremy that much. He spends the majority of the book in the background or away from the commune which makes the end reveal a little too unrealistic as we don’t see that side of him develop. I would have liked to have a few more hints and smaller scenes with him throughout the book to build on the unease and signpost the ending.
The ending of the book is great, and the events all come together to make for a fast-paced and energy-filled conclusion. I was a little sad that one aspect was walked back in the epilogue (no spoilers) as this twist had really shocked me.
Overall, The Haven is a solid read with a great ending but it did drag a little in the middle. Thank you to NetGalley & HQ Stories for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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