Today it’s my pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Absolution by P.A. Davies. This was quite a different tale spanning many decades and two very different wars, but with the same central theme linking the two. I’ll give you my thoughts on the book in just a moment, as soon as we’ve seen what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
When the Militia entered the peaceful village of Nyanyar Ngun, South Sudan in 1992 – amidst the backdrop of a bitter civil war – it wasn’t in peace.
Soldiers of the SFL committed untold atrocities in that small farming village, before finally razing it to the ground. From a line of terrified children, boys were chosen to become recruits of the Militia, whilst girls were taken for selling within a market of odious buyers. Those who weren’t selected were either left to perish or murdered where they stood.
In a field of high maize next to the village, sixteen-year old Jada lay hidden and afraid, witnessing the merciless slaughter of his parents and the capture of his sister Kiden; powerless to stop it, too frightened to try.
But now – tortured by grief, consumed with shame and driven by guilt – Jada must embark on a long & arduous journey to rescue his sister from a sinister world and earn his absolution…or die trying!
When I first started reading Absolution I was immediately gripped by the impression of the Sudan and of the descriptions of both the landscape and the wars raging across the region. It made for very compelling reading and the whole way in which the oppression of the native people by firstly the white who can in to re-educate and instill good Christian values in the ‘savages’, and then ultimately, but their owm people, those consumed by the need for power and who had no respect for human life was completely in keeping with the idea of war and the initial tone of the book.
The story of poor Jada who watched as his whole village was either massacred or taken as slaves or new members of the militia really pulled at the heartstrings and you could feel the young boys pain and his sense of helplessness and shame as he stood and allowed it to happen. However what follows is so much more than a tale of a boy coming to terms with his loss. Jada makes a vow, to recover his sister, come what may.
It is therefore a bit of a surprise when the prologue ends and the narrative turns to introduce a seemingly random man, Alfred Harris, and also Martin Bryson, described in the book as ‘unassuming’. There presence and introduction seems almost too random, almost like a narrator introducing key players, or an intriduction in some kind of weird mating ritual. But it kind of works with the text, and the seemingly random are not random for long, their paths destined to cross and their stories destined to be told.
The story takes us back to both men’s youth, one in the heart of World War II and the other a relatively normal childhood in which his overriding memory is that of his grandmother and her beloved chair. Again, how either story fits in with that of Jada is a mystery but one that is soon solved in quite a depressing but all to familiar way. Interspersed within their stories we learn more of Jada’s journey, told in part through flashback, as is Alfred’s, as it serves to further the story set in the present.
There is nothing overly gory about anything in the book, although the subjects covered, rape, human trafficking, murder and torture for entertainment, are clearly represented and far from agreeable. However, they are talked about more in the after effects and in the context of the brutality of war which, while not softening their impact, certainly makes them more bearable. Once I got into the book I found it flowed really well and I worked my way through it in just one evening.
I still wonder a little quite why Martin got drawn into the mess, and how far just a random member of the public really would have gotten involved. Situations served to almost make him get involved, despite being apparently designed to convince him otherwise. It was only this niggle, perhaps feeling he was a little superfluous to what was otherwise a very compelling story. I would perhaps have preferred to hear less of his grandmother’s chair and learned more of Amelia. While we wouldn’t have wanted to hear her whole story, hearing more of how she moved from child victim to aduly killer might have helped, especially as she was to learn nothing of Alfred’s real business dealings.
All in all this was a really good read. I quickly became invested in the characters, particularly Jada who show true nerve and resolve to try and find his sister against all odds. His story is sadly reflected in the fates of so many young boys caught up in the ugliness of war and I really wanted him to find Kiden and keep her safe. I was also intrigued to follow Alfred’s story, if only to see him get his comeuppance. It is just a shame so many innocent people had to suffer along the way.
My thanks to the author for the advance copy of Absolution for review and to Caroline Vincent for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. The book is available now from the following retailers.
About the Author
P.A. Davies was born in Manchester, UK, a city he has lived in and around all his life. He loves Manchester and is proud to be part of the multi-cultural, modern city that houses two Premiership football teams and is the birthplace of many a famous band, such as Oasis, the Stone Roses, Take That and Simply Red.
For most of his life, he has dabbled with writing various pieces – from poems to short fictional stories – but this was always just for fun. However, following advice from a good friend he decided to have a go at writing a novel. Thus, his first novel ‘Letterbox’ was conceived, a fictional take on the infamous IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996. It took him over a year to complete but while doing so, he found it to be one of the most satisfying and interesting paths he had ever followed. It came as no surprise that the writing bug subsequently became firmly embedded within him.
P.A. Davies’ second book – George: A Gentleman of the Road – was published in May 2013 and is a true story about one of Manchester’s homeless. His third novel – The Good in Mister Philips – is an erotic novel (arguably set to rival Fifty Shades…!) and his fourth – Nobody Heard Me Cry (Dec. 2015) – is again a fact-based tale about Manchester’s darker side. The thriller ‘Absolution’ (Oct. 2017) is his fifth novel.
To label P.A. Davies’ writings would be difficult because his works range from thrillers to touching novels to true-to-life tales embedded in a captivating story, making P.A. Davies an imaginative and versatile storyteller.
Make sure to check out some of the other blogs taking part in the tour.