Not everything is as it seems. Or is it?

Dani Atkins surprises her fans once again

Perfect Strangers is the fourth book by the British author Dani Atkins. I was familiar with her extraordinary endings from her previous books ‘Fractured’, ‘The Story of Us’ and ‘Our Song’, and Perfect Strangers, published on the 15th December 2016 by Simon & Schuster UK, touched my heart again. Atkins, born in 1958 in London, spent her commute to work reading and dreaming about being an author herself one day. When her children left home, she made her dream come true. And that quite successfully.

Since her first book ‘Fractured’ has been on my list of favourite books for a long time now, I get really excited every time I see that a new story of hers has been published. In the new standalone Ebook novella, she plays with the reader’s expectations again and again. It doesn’t matter that one might know from earlier reading about her fondness for a twist in the tale .

Hannah is on her way back to England. She was visiting her sister in Canada to make her mind up about her relationship with William, whom she has found out to have betrayed her. At the airport she meets Logan, a good-looking man with bright green eyes. She feels that there is something special about them when she sees him across the hall. When their airplane crashes, they both find themselves in the snow-capped Canadian wilderness. Luckily they both have survived. But can they brave the struggles in the cold and dangerous solitude? Was it fate that the two of them of all people are cast away together? Clearly this will be a situation in which they get to know each other in a completely unknown and scary way. Will Hannah’s heart will be healed, or will this be just another disappointment?

Be curious as to how the story goes on. There’s no way you’ll be able to guess, and I bet you anything you will be surprised in some way or other.

A story about love, grief, courage and self-discovery which cast a spell on me after just a few of the 177 pages. I could not put the book down and read it on just one winter evening in December. As I shared their journey, Hannah and Logan grew close to my heart and I commiserated with them. I felt as if I was outside in the Canadian wilderness myself, freezing, starving, dehydrated and startled by unexpected animals. This empathy comes from her writing style, which is easy to read but well formulated, and the very detailed description of the setting. The characters also develop and evolve so that one has the feeling one gets to know them better with every page. Being a novella, Perfect Strangers is a quick read but full of emotions, trouble and uncertainty.

Although I have read every one of Atkins’ stories up till now and I know that her endings are extraordinary, I was so absorbed that I had no idea how Perfect Strangers would end. I have to confess, however, that keeping her endings in mind one might have guessed the secret of the story quite early on, as someone indeed pointed out to me. However, this time the ending moved me very much and made me think just as much as all the other times. Dani Atkins is a master of the plot twist and this very fact should make you want to read at least one of her novels. Otherwise you will not get to know what a real plot twist is.

Atkins’ stories combine dreams with reality to create a wonderful truth which one can take from every one of her books. They leave one speechless, and not seldom on the brink of tears. But one has to be open to the topics of her books and let the message sink in. I can imagine that not everybody is so enthusiastic about them, or thinks that reading one of them is enough. But it is definitely worth a try, especially for people who like the stories of Jodie Picoult or similar books. And who knows, maybe one will find one’s own truth in one of them.

Julia Lied

 

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