Leah – Dana K. Haffar

I was very excited to be contacted by the author directly, asking if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her e-book, ‘Leah.’  Dana kindly emailed it to my Kindle, Charlotte, and I started reading that very day.  Thirteen year old Leah was said to have drowned at sea.  The inhabitants of the community where she lived – the remote island of Puerto Franco – believe that a curse overhangs them since her death thirty years ago.

‘Every candle in the village church burned for a mother’s loss yet it did not escape the villagers’ notice that their island had no more seasons.  Squalls and tempests flared up unexpectedly on a still summer’s day… Gales whipped up shrapnel of debris and chased the villagers indoors.

They blamed Cristina for not letting go of her daughter’s spirit… In time, even those who shared her grief became resentful of her self-pity.  With bitterness and fear in their hearts, they vowed to stay away from Leah’s mother and her only remaining child, Sebastian.’

Thirty years later, artist Mar with her daughter, Lemay leave the mainland to visit Puerto Franco under the pretence of spending time on her art whereas the truth is Mar wants to escape her controlling husband, Oscar.  Mar is eyed with suspicion and made to feel welcome by only a small handful of the villagers, who include the motherly Clara and the fisherman, Sebastian.  Lemay, bored with having to sit and watch her mother paint, strikes up a friendship with Sebastian and gradually so do Mar and Sebastian much to the anger of Sebastian’s troubled, volatile and cruel girlfriend, Manuela.  The characters in this novel all play their part very well and when Oscar unexpectedly arrives on tes island, you can only watch helplessly as they all head towards their final, desperate climax.

Running alongside this main story is the story of Leah.  She ‘appears’ to Mar and begins to leave clues that lead the artist towards a frightening realisation of what actually happened on the island thirty years ago.  I loved this supernatural feel and would have liked more of it, if possible.  The author plays this well and I hope her future books will also have this mystical element to them.

‘Leah’ is currently available to purchase from amazon for Kindle at the special price of $1.99US.

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The Tenderness of Wolves

This book has been sat on my shelf for some time, ever since I picked it up at an Op Shop (‘Charity Shop’ for all your English followers) and liked the cover instantly. (I have to admit to being a judge a book by its’ pretty cover sometimes, which usually pans well but sometimes leaves me a’cropper.) I was pleased when Adele chose it for our Gloopers book club choice this month as it finally got to be taken off the shelf and read…

Unfortunately, two of the Gloopers gals had read this book before I got round to it and weren’t telling me favourable things about it, which sucks as it always puts me off reading a book when I hear negative things beforehand. They said it was hard to get into and takes 50 pages or more before the story gets interesting. Well, last Friday, I was at a second-hand kids’ market doing a stall, so I had nowhere to go and no distractions (apart from the odd customer,) so used this opportunity to get the first 100 pages under my belt and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed what I read. Phew! Now, a week later, the book is finally done so here’s my synopsis and review (oh, and a picture of my market stall!)

‘Tenderness of Wolves’ is set in a remote, snow-covered, isolated part of Canada.  The small community the novel is set in seems uninviting and cold (and I don’t just mean in terms of the weather.)  The main story is told through Mrs Ross’ eyes, who in the opening chapter of the book finds the mutilated corpse of one of her neighbours.  She then adds together 2 + 2 to make something other than 4 and proceeds on somewhat of a wild goosechase though this harsh, unforgiving land in search of her son who she believes is involved in the murder somehow.  She takes with her a guide, and ‘their’ story then becomes entwined in the main story of the search of a murderer.  More characters then come into play – the people left behind in the village, Francis himself (the ‘missing’ son), a Native Indian family, and a small group of men (one bumbling, one thirsty for blood, none trustworthy) from a fur-trading company who have their own ideas as to how things need to be handled… and running along in the background is the story of 2 missing children from the past, who people believe were eaten by wolves as they were never found.

The book is very clever in that all these stories entwine effortlessly and the characters (and there are a few ‘main’ ones) are constantly juggled by the author.  Each story blends into the other effortlessly and I found myself engaged in the book pretty much from the start.  However, Mrs. Ross is quite annoying at times and I didn’t warm to many of the characters, which is perhaps the books’ greatest flaw.  The wilderness and harsh, unforgiving climate seeps through the book and is very visual.  We don’t really get to meet many wolves though and I question the book’s title.  There is a scene where a wolf comes face to face with one of the characters (incidentally, another annoying female character!) and he chooses not to kill her.  This is perhaps the only reference I found to any ‘tenderness’ on their part.  Maybe, like I mentioned in an earlier posting, the wolves the author speaks of are actually the characters themselves?

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