The Judas Scar is the second novel by Amanda Jennings. I’d heard good things about this book and the plots really intrigued me.
Here’s the blurb:
Scars. We all carry them. Some are mere scratches. Others run deeper.
At a school rife with bullying, Will and his best friend Luke are involved in a horrific incident that results in Luke leaving.
Twenty-five years later their paths cross again and memories of Will’s painful childhood come flooding back to haunt him. His wife, Harmony, who is struggling after a miscarriage that has hit her hard, wishes Will would open up about his experiences. But while Will withdraws further, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic stranger from her husband s past, and soon all three are caught in a tangled web of guilt, desire, betrayal and revenge.
I was hooked on this book from the moment I picked it up. The tension and suspense is created right from the beginning, and the relationships of the characters are very quickly revealed to be not as they seem. The fallout of having a miscarriage, and Harmony’s emotions following this tragic event, are played out alongside events when the past comes back to haunt Will. It almost feels quite intimate to be acquainted with these characters at such a raw time, and it is well described. I felt like I knew these characters, I was invested in them and I wanted to find out more about them, and their actions caused me to be almost shouting at my book at times!
The tension is further increased when Will meets someone from his past, and this brings back memories from his childhood, which centre around his public boarding school and the bullying he and his friend Luke was subjected to. His issues regarding the miscarriage and the events of the past seem interlinked in some way, in that Will doesn’t feel good enough to be a father. It is also clear he has his own complex feelings about his own father. It soon becomes apparent that this resurfacing of old memories is affecting his relationship. As he tries to battle with his own feelings regarding the past, and as secrets are revealed, he pushes Harmony away, and both characters seem to be on a path of self-destruction.
It is very hard to talk about this book without giving a lot away, so I am trying my best. The decisions both characters make, whilst both seemingly out of character, you can see as a reader why they are making these decisions, and just know things will not run smoothly. I found the character of Luke to be dark, moody and you just know that it isn’t a coincidence that he has come back into Will’s life. All the characters add something to the story, and extra layers of personality.
All the while you are wondering what happened in the past, and why, and the tension builds to a great crescendo. I wasn’t disappointed by the ‘big reveal’, and there is something of a twist within a twist, which I also thought was good – I didn’t see it coming. The book ties all these ends nicely together, and the ending of the book, whilst nothing too explosive, did surprise me a bit. I like the fact that everything within the book is believable – it doesn’t extend beyond the realms of reality, and that is refreshing and also makes the book believable, and raw. You can believe that things like this actually happened.
This book is dark, there are parts that are so well described it is almost painful to read on. It really does conjure up the image of what the public school life and bullying must have been like and also the heartache of a couple who are torn apart by the things that happen to them in life. I was so engrossed by this book, I could have happily read it all on one go, it was compulsive and I would say, addictive.
I would gladly give this book 4 out of 5 stars, in my opinion it is a must-read. I am eager now to read Amanda’s other book, Sworn Secret.
I was sent a copy of The Judas Scar as part of the Britmums Book Club. All thoughts and opinions are my own.