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Amity and Sorrow tells the story of a mother, Amaranth, who flees from an oppressive cult with her two daughters, Amity & Sorrow, after their temple is set on fire. The basic concept is fairly simple, yet as the novel continues Peggy Riley weaves the storylines, character arcs, plot twists and psychological developments to the point where the strands of the story haunt your thoughts well after the book has been closed. The narrative is not linear, rather it jumps back and forward, showing the story developing from different points in time and from different perspectives. The art of subtlety is key, there is no space for over-wrought cliché here. Riley allows her reader to come to their own conclusions, and decide their own sympathies. A prime example being the character of Sorrow; is she a controlling bully who manipulates everyone around her and disregards her sister’s fierce loyalty? Or a victim of childhood sexual abuse and psychological exploitation, a young naïve girl to be pitied? Or even a true prophet, who has access to knowledge concerning the end of the world, and is on her mission to help mankind find salvation? This is a touching tale filled with anguish, yet thoroughly enjoyable and impossible to get out of your head.

Lorna Fleming

Headline Publishing Group/ISBN: 9780755394364/Harback/£14.99

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