The Haven by Amanda Jennings

5 Stars from me

I approached this book with much deference and much excitement, knowing for sure that I was in for a treat. Having read (devoured, lived, breathed) Amanda Jennings’ other books I just knew that I would love The Haven.

I have many ‘must read’ authors, those whose books I acquire without so much as a glance at the synopsis as I know I will love them and Amanda Jennings is one such author. Her books are beautiful, her characters real, and every thought and emotion is vivid.

From the very first few pages of meeting Tara, Kit and Jeremy I cared about them, I lived and breathed their emotions, dreams and disappointments.

The relationship between the three of them was something really quite wonderful. Jeremy’s charisma and ease within any situation gave him a magnetic charm that few could dent – his self-assured confidence clearly attractive.

The move to Winterfall when it came felt natural and I willed these beautiful young people to succeed in their utopian dream. With Kit footing the bill, Tara and Skye bringing enthusiasm, purity and lightness, and Jeremy bringing determination, passion, and an all encompassing surety that it would work, life at Winterfall starts with a purposeful and joyous air.

Thanks to Jeremy’s openness, warmth and generosity of spirit, others soon join with their own back stories and various skills and abilities to contribute to the group. Kit and Tara embrace the lifestyle of freshly baked bread, plans for future crops and self-sufficiency, clean living, and a wholesome environment to raise their daughter. Nature was bountiful, the skies were blue and they were in love with life and each other. Utopia indeed.

‘But wait, why can’t we use the heating?’ Along with the colder temperatures outside, once those first niggles wormed their way into their minds I felt the faintest gossimer thread begin to unravel. Along with other members of Winterfall, I too began to question a few things and slowly but surely some of Jeremy’s gloss began to wear off. Was it perfect, was it the idyl, or were they being controlled?

I’ve got to be honest, suddenly there was a whiff of a cult in the air. Who doesn’t love a cult book?!

Thereafter, a dark and brooding unease seemed to infiltrate the pages and rather than being a gentle, charismatic, warm, all embracing, hippy-esque kind of a guy, Jeremy seemed to be on edge, suspicious and, frankly, one to watch.

As is so often the case, once a tiny thread comes loose, the whole perfect image starts to unravel and that’s when things really start to get interesting!

A fast, tense and disturbing series of events follow at breakneck speed and the perfect happy life suddenly appears cut off, isolated and vulnerable.

I loved the beginning, middle and end of this story and I am so grateful to have discovered Amanda Jennings and her beautifully crafted stories. They are all standalone novels and so can be read in any order – and are all utterly different – quite how she manages to be a convincing teenager in one book, gnarly fisherman in another and god like cult leader The Haven is quite beyond me.

Simply put – I love how Amanda Jennings writes. Frankly, if she so much as writes a shopping list I want to read it.

Blurb: 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…

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