Fiction amber fury

Published on March 6th, 2014


The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes

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Blurb: When you open up, who will you let in? When Alex Morris loses her fiance in dreadful circumstances, she moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past. Alex takes a job at a Pupil Referral Unit, which accepts the students excluded from other schools in the city. These are troubled, difficult kids and Alex is terrified of what she’s taken on. There is one class – a group of five teenagers – who intimidate Alex and every other teacher on The Unit. But with the help of the Greek tragedies she teaches, Alex gradually develops a rapport with them. Finding them enthralled by tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge, Alex even begins to worry that they are taking her lessons to heart, and that a whole new tragedy is being performed, right in front of her. (Corvus)

Debra Craine, The Times

The writer’s other passion is crime fiction and she rides the coat-tails of the genre — using, for example, the device of two contrasted narrators and the drip-feed of crucial facts — yet she keeps the plot simple, avoiding the more baroque tendencies of so many contemporary crime writers. The Amber Fury is quick and easy to read; it feels essential and exciting at the same time.

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Jessica Holland, The Observer

“It hops artfully between detective noir, tragedy and coming of age and cranks up the suspense once the plot’s properly under way. Haynes’s passion for the ancient stories is infectious, and a too-neat ending didn’t stop me wanting to read the Oresteia next.”

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Fanny Blake, The Daily Mail

“Haynes writes with a fine eye for detail, bringing Auld Reekie as much to life as she does her characters.  This psychological thriller deals with grief, obsession and revenge while exploring ancient themes and demonstrating their continuing relevance.

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James Kidd, The Independent

“The novel mimics the theatrical five-act form, a Euripidean emphasis on emotion and female protagonists, as well as familiar themes: fate, revenge, violence, love – both betrayed and thwarted. Such an homage would be hubristic for any writer let alone a debutant, and while Haynes carries it off, the translation from stage to page wobbles occasionally. Despite the verve hinted at by its title, The Amber Fury takes a little time to get going. Haynes’s opening feels tentative, afraid to reveal too many secrets too quickly, but equally keen not to lose clarity in establishing her premise.”

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Susanna Rustin, The Guardian

“Haynes, who used to be a standup comedian, says she prefers tragedy nowadays. I hope she might reconsider and write a funny book next time. I don’t think her novel about young lives reshaped by acts of extreme violence gets her or us anywhere very interesting. The court case at the end is an anti-climax and the teenage diary that makes up the portion of the novel not narrated by Alex feels all wrong. What Haynes is good at is the interaction between people. Her dialogue is sparky, her characters miles more appealing when talking to each other than to themselves.”

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