Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Hamer and narrator Antonia Beamish offer edge-of-your-seat listening in this debut. Set in England and the United States and told by mother/daughter narrators in alternating chapters, the work is fraught with suspense and a pervasive sense of dread. Eight-year-old Carmel is kidnapped from her small English town; Beth, her recently divorced, very insecure mother, is bereft. Carmel finds herself in the company of a shady preacher and his entourage as they travel across the States. Hamer reveals a complex plot as the victims are molded into survivors by fear, despair, growth, courage, and acceptance. Outstanding characterization by Beamish contributes to listeners' empathy and concern for Beth and Carmel. VERDICT Listeners will find themselves thinking of this novel for a while. ["Hamer...is a natural storyteller who writes with such a sense of drama, compulsion, and sympathy that most readers will devour this work in one or two sittings": LJ 2/1/16 starred review of the Melville House hc.]-Sandra C. Clariday, -Cleveland, TN © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Beth is a divorced mom in England who lives in fear that her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander, will go missing. Her nightmare comes true when a wily, fanatical preacher kidnaps Carmel and takes her to America. The chapters alternate between Beth's heartbreaking search for her daughter and attempts to continue life without her, and Carmel's strange adventure and struggle to adapt, survive, and maintain her identity far from home. Voice actress Beamish's narration is superb, particularly in Carmel's chapters: at first, she narrates in a child's voice, but gradually she begins to sound like a teenager, and then, eventually, she starts to speak in an American accent. Beamish also perfectly conveys Carmel's personality and thought process: she is a naive child, yet also observant and intelligent, trying to piece things together and learn the truth, and determined to hold on to her true name, identity, and memories no matter what. In Beth's chapters, Beamish vividly conveys the heartbreaking sorrow, fear, hope, and guilt of a mother who has lost her child. The excellent voice narration makes this riveting novel even more powerful on audio. A Melville House hardcover. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Hamer's elegantly written first novel begins on a fog-shrouded day in the English countryside as Beth and her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, attend a festival. In the midst of the crowd, they are separated, and Carmel indulges in a private child's game of hiding before realizing she is hopelessly lost. When a man tells her that he is her estranged grandfather, she takes his hand in relief and disappears. Her parents and the police follow every lead for years, while Carmel finds herself held captive by a ragtag bunch of self-described miracle workers directed by her grandfather, who is convinced that she possesses a power that will bring him wealth and salvation. With chapters split between mother and daughter, readers are drawn into both their worlds as Beth struggles to hold on to hope and Carmel fights to remember her true identity. Hamer's lush use of language easily conjures fairy-tale imagery, especially of dark forests and Little Red Riding Hood. Although a kidnapped child is the central plot point, this is not a mystery but a novel of deep inquiry and intense emotions. Hamer's dark tale of the lost and found is nearly impossible to put down and will spark much discussion.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2015 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Hamer's debut novel poignantly details the loss and loneliness of a mother and daughter separated. Beth is recently divorced and raising her daughter, Carmel, on her own in a small town in Norfolk, England. Struggling with the pain of her husband's leaving her for another woman, Beth is determined to "fill the gap he'd left" for Carmelunaware that her daughter too would become a void. On Carmel's eighth birthday, the mother-daughter duo heads out to a storytelling festival together but leaves forever changed. The novel, fast-paced and with a mosaic quality to the scenes, diverges both in form and narrative. Beth and Carmel are each narrators, detailing their points of view of the events leading up to Carmel's abduction from the festival and their journeys thereafter. Hamer deftly develops child and woman. The two are woven together subtly: they both describe their loneliness as affecting their throats. They each call out to the other through the distance. Beth meticulously counts the days that Carmel's been missing while Carmel is lost to time altogether. However, the other characters feel more like haphazard plot constructions. For instance, one man goes from being like "a scorpion that might sting you if you get too close" to someone almost entirely feeble and deflated without a clear trajectory from one state to the other. A few characters are mentioned only to give vague hints to a unifying theme that remains underdeveloped even in the end, one girl named "Mercy" remains a mystery throughout, and three characters disappear almost entirely. When Beth throws a woman out of her home, shouting, "Get out of here.Take your God with you and don't ever come back," Hamer beautifully renders pain, exactly capturing the evisceration of loss, but she just falls short with the overall cohesion of the story. Exquisite prose surrounding a mother and daughter torn apart, but the book could have used more attention to less detail. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.