The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she’s spent her life remembering little – her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life?
Flitting effortlessly between past and present, this is a suspenseful, gritty and emotionally charged journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness.… (Goodreads)
Redemption Road was sent to me for review, along with The Other Me from the publisher. Both of these books are not ones I would normally pick up, but when I was asked to review this for a Blog Tour (which, due to a slightly hectic week I missed the date I was scheduled to participate in) I jumped at the chance to try it. This is a decision that I am glad I made because this was a really complex and interesting read. Had I not been asked, I know I wouldn’t have chosen this book and that really would be missing out.
What I really liked about this book was the way in which Ballantyne has written a complex book, which quickly shattered my expectations. I had expected this book to be about Margret and although in a way the book is, Margaret was the lynch pin connecting the past and the present. From the first few chapters, I correctly guessed the identity of Margaret’s saviour and with the early flashback chapters; I could see what the hidden secret was.
While other authors could have used this as the mystery of a book, Ballantyne instead creates the mystery surrounding “Maxwell” and how he came to be so disfigured. With each chapter set in the past, a clearer picture was built and with the multiple points of view, a clearer picture is revealed and the “villains” and the “hero” begin to blur.
This is a very character driven book and portrays the complexities of the human condition. While the person who “kidnapped” the young Margaret did break the law, you see that their own upbringing had a detrimental affect on him differentiating right from wrong. They become a very sympathetic character and though I disagreed with his actions, I could sympathise with them.
Hot on the trail of the kidnapper, is self-proclaimed knight of justice Angus, the reporter of the local newspaper. This deeply religious man became a man that I disliked very deeply. From the way he is with his family to his views of others who he deems as heretics, he was a character I despised. Yes, he was on the right path, but the way in which he goes about investigating the little girl’s disappearance results in a lot of destruction to lives, including that of a man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Although Angus did not get his just deserts at the end of the book, he was denied his quest to make a name from himself. The cherry on the cake had to be the home coming he received from his family after he went on his one man crusade.
The last chapters set in the present gave a nice resolution to Margaret’s story and there was a feeling of resolution as Margaret was able to confront and accept the circumstances surrounding her childhood. It was a heart-warming moment and I great resolution to a tricky set of circumstances.
Ballantyne has a real gift for creating a book that delves deep into the human psyche. There are so many shades of grey in the book, that it was difficult to determine who was to blame for Margaret’s kidnapping. People are driven to do things that are morally questionable but to each character they believe that they are doing the right thing.
While I loved the parts of the book set in the past, the present chapters were some of the weaker parts, in my opinion. I think this was more to do with the fact the characters in the past seemed more defined and well rounded. I never really got a “feeling” for Margaret and therefor I could not become as involved in her story as those in the past. This is a minor quibble because I really couldn’t put this book down, desperate to find out what the connection was between the past and the present.