July 2024
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Review: Black Rock, Amanda Smyth

Celia’s mother died giving birth to her, so Celia grew up under the eye of her Aunt Tassi and, unfortunately, her Uncle Roman in Black Rock, Tobago.  Roman is Tassi’s second husband and a sly alcoholic, planting lies about Celia and getting uncomfortably close to her on a constant basis.  Celia is a clever girl and wants one day to go to university, but after her uncle proves his horrible nature correct, Celia can’t stay to be in the same room with him.  So she flees to Trinidad, to her aunt Sula, to get away from the horror that had previously been her life.

I was actually amazed by how very much I enjoyed this book.  It sounded good but the beginning was very dark.  I knew what was coming almost from page one, and I truly skimmed that particular section as much as possible.  But then Celia escapes to Trinidad, and even though her life wasn’t wonderful, I just completely fell in love with the book.  I loved the way that the author made this country I’d hardly ever heard of come to life for me through her descriptions.  I adored Celia’s voice and even as I longed for the best for her I could completely understand her choices, even when they weren’t choices I would have made myself.

I think what really got me about this book was that even though there is a lot of bad in Celia’s life, there is also hope.  She is vividly alive from page one and she almost constantly is fighting for that life, retaining her spark even when she thinks she’s lost it.  She made the book for me.  I also loved the tensions between all the characters in the novel, at least after that beginning; how love and desire develop, for example, and how they don’t, and Celia’s relationship with her Aunt Sula, who she barely knows.  It prodded at the stigma of the relationship between the white English master and the black servant girl in England’s colonies, as well, and how easy it was for the master to blatantly use his beautiful young employees.  It may be a familiar theme, and we all know how wrong it was, but it doesn’t make this story any less affecting.  Celia’s slow rediscovery of herself and what she wants to be is magnificently done, too, and I loved the ending.  It made perfect sense.

Honestly, Black Rock was a fantastic read.  I am so pleased that I read it and I definitely recommend it.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review.


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