About the Book
Title: Finding Amelia
Author: Graham West
Published: September 3, 2017
Following the horrific death of his wife and child, Robert Adams struggles to rebuild a life with his seventeen-year-old daughter, Jenny. Their relationship is tested further when she expresses a desire to contact her mother through a spiritualist and he watches helplessly as they slowly drift apart.
But everything changes when Jenny begins to dream—dreams which take her into another world—a world inhabited by a young girl, imprisoned in a dark attic. A girl Jenny believes is an ancestor whose spirit is reaching out across the generations.
But who is she? What does she want? As Jenny’s behaviour becomes increasingly dangerous and unpredictable, Robert finds himself confiding in Sebastian Tint—an old professor who claims to possess a sixth sense. Together, they employ retired genealogist Jack Staple to trace the family tree, but it is a journey that takes Robert down a road of discovery that threatens to tear their world apart.
What an intense story. It’s a psychological thriller that kept me turning pages (and hiding under the covers with my Kindle in the next room). I love a good ghost story, especially one so revealing about the human condition.
Rob is a likable narrator, easy to feel sympathetic toward for his losses and his struggles with his teenage daughter. Over time, we begin to see him as unreliable and hiding plenty of his own secrets. There’s a point at which one of the other characters accuses him of messing everything up, virtually with a single action years in the past. The truth is more complicated, but that stood out to me. How many of us have wondered what life would be like if not for one bad decision?
Rob’s saving grace is in the form of his genuine love for the people around him. He makes mistakes, and at times it feels as though he’s pleading with us to forgive him. He comes across as selfish, going beyond his grief and loneliness. At other moments we see the lengths he’s willing to go to for people he cares about. He easily doles out forgiveness in equal measures to what he expects for himself. This makes him far more interesting and well-rounded, but it also makes me wonder whether we ever fully uncover the truth.
There are a lot of heavy themes about forgiveness, reconciling the past, and making up for mistakes. The only people who are never forgiven are those who engage in intentional cruelty and violence. The story ends on a hopeful note, but as it’s part of a series, I have a feeling there’s a lot more to come.
At times, this can feel a little like a typical story of uncovering the past. There are plenty of clues scattered throughout. I was easily able to guess at some things, while others came as a surprise. What makes it effective isn’t the use of some fairly common plot devices. It’s in how they’re all woven together to form the whole picture and what deeper truths we can learn from them. This is an outstanding novel, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next book.
For an absorbing story, complex themes, and exactly the right amount of creepy thrills, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
Graham West studied art at Hugh Baird college in Bootle, Merseyside, before joining the display team at Blacklers Store in Liverpool city centre where he spent seven years in the art department before moving on in 1981 to become a sign writer. He lives in Maghull with his wife, Ann, and has a daughter, Lindsay, and two grandchildren, Sonny and Kasper. Graham also plays guitar at weddings, functions and restaurants. He took up writing in 2000 and has had a couple of factual articles published in magazines. Finding Amelia is his first novel.