It is late 19th Century in rural New Zealand. Amy Leith is fifteen years, and she has been managing the household by herself since her grandmother's death. Suddenly one day, her father comes home with a new bride from Aukland. The troubles that ensue, from verbal and emotional abuse heaped upon her by her wicked stepmother to what amounts to repeated statutory rape by the stepmother's visiting brother (who adds insult to injury when he abandons Amy after she tells him she is pregnant), carry the story forward at a breakneck pace.
Despite her youth, Amy is a strong and worthy heroine, with both grit and a loving (if almost fatally naive) heart. Susannah is an almost fairy-tale caliber wicked stepmother. Jack is a loving father, limited by, but occasionally sublimating, the culture of his era. The rest of the characters are an interesting collection of period characters, some of which are almost stereotypical, but all of whom come across as realistic in the context of the narrative.
This was a good story, well-told. It is the first of a series. This one's free. We'll have to pay for the others. I've already bought the second one. I can't wait to see if Charlie Stewart turns out not to be as misogynistic as he is thought to be by the neighbors. (I hope not -- for Amy's sake. She deserves a break.)
Well done! I will definitely read more of this author's work.
(review of free book)