29 April 2016

The Last Days of Summer*


She can forgive. They can't forget.
After ten years in Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters.  Lizzie does not know who she's letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.  Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is intrigued by her new uncle.  Jasper says he's all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door.


Rating: ★★★★★

I'm excited to share this review with you today!  Although I don't like to read too many dark books in a row, I love thrillers, and if I haven't picked one up for a while I start to crave another and look into what my next title will be.  For me, The Last Days of Summer ticked all the boxes.

It's full of tension from the start as we are introduced to Jasper on his release from prison after a ten year sentence.  His crime is not revealed until closer to the end of the story but it's clear from his interactions with other residents of the town that it was something terrible which none are ready to forgive him for.  The events unfold quite slowly to start with but the tension is constantly rumbling in the background, hinting at things to come, which was given added depth by the atmospheric description of the surrounding prairie landscape.

The major theme of the book is the difference between good and evil and how this isn't always clear cut, and this was really well integrated through the use of alternating viewpoints, particularly the different perceptions of Katie & Joanne.  Whilst Katie is wary of her uncle, Joanne sees things much more innocently due to her limited knowledge of his crime, and is able to strike up an unlikely bond with him.  Because of this I think Joanne is the character I felt most for, but all the characters were well developed and complex.  I had very conflicting opinions of Jasper in particular - I was sympathetic towards his attempts to try to integrate into society after serving his sentence and his friendship with Joanne but at the same time, his inner monologue was not always easy to read.


It is a shocking read in places, particularly from finding out Jasper's crime and the ending, which is very evocative and had me holding my breath.  Vanessa doesn't hold back and there were some very graphic scenes but for me this is only a strength given the genre - there is nothing more disappointing than a book that claims to be a thriller but falls short.  The tension is really ratcheted up as the story progresses and whilst there are some very disturbing events, I couldn't tear myself away from it.  It was completely addictive and really impressive for a debut novel - I'll definitely be looking out for anything else by Vanessa Ronan. A must-read for any fellow thriller fans.


The Last Days of Summer will be published on 5th May by Penguin and is available to pre-order on Amazon!

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Too long, didn't read?  Here's my Goodreads review:
 
 
The Last Days of SummerThe Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ticks all the boxes for a perfect thriller. Complex characters, atmospheric setting and a smart, tense narrative.  Expect some disturbing scenes, but I couldn't tear myself away from it, especially towards the end.

View all my reviews

 
* I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts are my own. 
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