Sunday, 8 April 2018

Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings
Release Date: 5th April 2018
Publisher: Unbound Digital
Genres:  Suspense / Psychological Thriller

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?
Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.

I'm thrilled to be sharing my review of this book again. Seas of Snow is one of those books that leaves you emotionally exhausted. Written in a beautifully haunting way we are introduced to young Gracie who leads a fairly quiet and unassuming existence with her mother. Her days are spent in a world of Dragons and princesses as she and her best friend Billy, the boy from next door use their imaginations to play games of fairy stories where good always overcomes evil. They are innocent children with a fierce loyalty to one another. However, Gracie's life soon becomes the stuff of nightmares where it seems even Billy can't save her from her evil Uncle Joe.

Uncle Joe comes into Gracie and her mother's life like dark clouds rolling in prior to a storm. Unbelievably cruel to Gracie's mother and frightening to all who encounter him, Uncle Joe has an unhealthy interest in Gracie, staring at her with those dark raven eyes. Plotting and planning. Lusting.

We are given teasing glimpses into Gracie's childhood through the memories of an old and broken woman who is dying and the visits of Billy her old childhood friend. Billy who has remained loyal to Gracie and is still trying to be that young boy who fought Gracie's dragons for her a long time ago.

This book is at times extremely difficult to read because of the content of the story. Domestic violence and the insight offered into the psyche of a sexual predator are difficult to comprehend. Gracie's vulnerability to Joe and her mother's inability to protect her drag the reader kicking and screaming into a world of horror, fear and torment for poor Gracie. For Gracie's mother, she must remain loyal to Joe. He is family after all. A misplaced loyalty brought about by sheer terror of a man she knows is out of control and dangerous. The only escape Gracie finds is through the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke where she can transport herself to a different time, a different place. 

This was a beautifully sad book that speaks of horrors too unimaginable but also of the love of two children and their life long friendship. It's a book about survival no matter how broken you are. I love the fact that literature and poetry provide Gracie with an alternative world in which to survive. For many people this is also their own reality. Written in such a way that the reader lives Gracie's journey with her in a way that we are given snapshots of what happened or what is about to happen in a slow but frighteningly teasing way that fills the reader with dread, apprehension and the story with tension just as poor Gracie must have felt waiting for whatever evil Joe had planned for her. This book will stay with me for a long time. A highly recommended read but be warned, some scenes are fairly disturbing.  


Kerensa Jennings is a storyteller, strategist, writer, producer and professor. Kerensa’s TV work took her all over the world, covering everything from geo-politics to palaeontology, and her time as Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost coincided with the life-changing events of 9/11. The knowledge and experience she gained in psychology by qualifying and practising as an Executive Coach has only deepened her fascination with exploring the interplay between nature and nurture and with investigating whether evil is born or made – the question at the heart of Seas of Snow. As a scholar at Oxford, her lifelong passion for poetry took flight. Kerensa lives in West London and over the last few years has developed a career in digital enterprise.


“I’ve been writing stories and poems ever since I was a little girl. Although it’s taken me a long time to get around to writing a book, I’m lucky enough to have had a long career in the media as a TV producer, writing television programmes. Most of the time viewers would have had no idea who I was, but my words have informed, educated and entertained millions over the years. I produced, directed, wrote for and worked with some of the most amazing people including Nelson Mandela, Sir David Frost (I was Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost), Sir David Attenborough, Fiona Bruce, Sian Williams, James Nesbitt, George Alagiah and Rory Bremner. I moved away from programme making to strategy and became the BBC’s Head of Strategic Delivery where I designed and delivered strategies for the Corporation, including a significant digital strategy (BBC Make it Digital). I now run The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award. 

I’ve always used literature, and poetry in particular, for solace and escape. I happen to think literature is probably the best self-help on the planet! You can fly into other worlds and find ways through writing to make sense of life. SEAS of SNOW draws together some of my passions and fascinations in life. While I was at university, I studied the psychoanalysis of fairy tales and got very interested in archetypes and the way characters and stories of good and evil are portrayed. 

While leading the BBC News coverage of the Soham investigation, I had the opportunity to see first-hand a lot of evidence about the mind and motives of a psychopath. So in SEAS of SNOW, the protagonist Gracie uses poetry and playtime to escape the traumas and abuses of her life; the antagonist, her Uncle Joe, is a bad man, a psychopath; and there is a subtext of fairy tale underlying the page-turning scenario which hopefully makes you want to read while half covering your eyes.”


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