Thursday, 24 April 2014

Book Review: Stranger Things by Erin Healy





Serena’s career as a high school biology teacher ends just as it’s beginning, when an angry student accuses her of unthinkable behavior. Stunned and suspended, Serena retreats to the forest where she usually finds privacy and beauty. But on this day she encounters something even more unexpected than the end of her dreams: a killer, his prisoner, and a stranger who dies to save Serena’s life.

Christopher has spent a decade rescuing girls from the underworld of sex trafficking—starting with his sister Amber. Their tiny nonprofit protects girls from seduction, but their hearts’ desire is to bring down John Roman, the powerful criminal who first took Amber and has ruined thousands of young women since.

When Christopher’s colleagues suspect Serena of being in league with Roman, her life spirals out of control. How will she clear her name? Why did a stranger protect her with his life? And what is the meaning of the visions she sees whenever she visits the gutted house where he died?

The answers lie with her enemies, and with all the imprisoned women whose names she doesn’t even know yet.

STRANGER THINGS is a novel that invites readers to reconsider their perception of the world and the people who populate it, loved ones and strangers alike.

My Review


This has all the hallmarks of what we’ve come to expect from Healy: gripping suspense, characters grappling with their external world but also with what’s in their heart, and an insider’s perspective of the “thin places” where the natural and supernatural intersect. However, added to this novel is an especially powerful story line drawing the reader into the dark sinister world of human trafficking.

The novel starts fast and doesn’t let up. Healy’s descriptive powers make this novel a highly visual experience. We get multiple points of view which I enjoyed as it enlightened the experience in my mind.

The story demonstrates how human trafficking is able to proliferate due to systematic abuse, deceit and corruption. For much of the novel we’re not exactly sure whether the heroes are actually villains and vice-versa. As the story unfolds the layers gradually peel away to reveal some very courageous people and sinister bad guys.

Serena Diaz and Amber Larsen are two very gutsy women, both survivors of this heinous industry, and marvelously crafted. They are drawn together, coincidentally, by Amber’s brother, Christopher. Embedded in both ladies is his passion and energy to rescue those in need and shine light in the darkness of the industry that has played such a role in their lives since their youth.

The bad guys are creepy in their arrogance, abuse of power and complete disregard for the lives of the many they destroy. Healy reveals the far-reaching tentacles of structured corruption that pervades the industry.

This is an effortless read that was hard to put down and I was sad it ended.




Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

12 comments:

  1. Wow! Sounds like an utterly fab read, Ian. Thanks for highlighting it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Annie, this is my favourite of Erin's novels. Strong characters, provocative story and excellent writing.

      Delete
  2. So great to see your reviews on other sites, Ian. And thanks again for being so generous with the praise! Your fan, Erin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Erin for popping over to ACW. Always great when the author drops in.

      Delete
  3. Excellent review, Ian.

    I didn't especially enjoy the last Erin Healy novel I read - I found her "thin places" idea detracted from the plot rather than adding to it, but it sounds as though this doesn't have the same problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Iola, there's less emphasis on the 'thin places' in this one. And Erin incorporates it differently this time - the 'thin place' is a physical location.

      A really enjoyable read.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Welcome and I trust you may pop by again.

      Delete
  5. Great review, Ian. What higher praise from a reader than 'hard to put down' and 'sad it ended.'
    Thanks for sharing this book and author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dotti, Erin knows how to grab a reader. With her editorial background, Erin knows how to style an engaging story. I found the story fascinating and it's a gutsy subject for a Christian author to feature.

      Delete
  6. Ian, fabulous review! I'm intrigued by the story premise. It sounds like an excellent read, that would keep me up until 3am! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Narelle, like you I found the story premise intriguing especially for a Christian author to tackle. Many of us would shy away from it.

      Delete