Review: Trace This Scar – Jessikah Hope Stenson

Most students are doing well to keep up with essay hand-ins, be active members of societies and be able to enjoy the odd night out. Jessikah Hope Stenson has managed this and is now on the cusp of her second publication with Excalibur Press. Her debut novel Trace This Scar is full of moments that surprise, whilst maintaining a fast-paced and engaging narrative. Stenson has clearly done her research: drugs, court cases, domestic violence, and police questioning are not shied away from and this helps tojess create a realistic novel with a strong impact.

Stenson marvels at capturing Daphne’s struggle, not only emotionally at, what she believes is the false, imprisonment of her husband, but with the counting of loose change and the re-occurring choices between heating, food, and electricity. The reader is left hoping that soon Daphne will make it to a place of security. It is easy to find yourself in Daphne, especially whilst she struggles to chew those cardboard tasting microwave meals. One of the most poignant passages comes at Daphne fantasising over winning the lottery. It is not her material desires that captivate the reader, but her longing to love and be loved in return.

This craving is well represented in Jamie. Under pressure to impress his parents and hold down a job, Jamie is charming and quickly finds himself entangled in Daphne’s life. Young, naïve and standing on his own feet for a change, Jamie is one of a few people Daphne can rely on. Dark secrets are revealed and we are left wondering whether Daphne and Jamie are as compatible as we had hoped they were.

Even the minor characters are created in a captivating light. Carrie, Jamie’s childhood sweetheart is fiercely loyal and recognisable in most childhoods as the girl who was always there. Daphne’s boss is hard-working and only wants the world to give Daphne a break. Her husband, Rich, has left a strong imprint on Daphne’s life and his violence seems to maintain a control over her during his time behind bars.

Switching between perspectives, Trace this Scar is fast-paced and well balanced. Each perspective shift brings to light new information and avoids drowning the reader in suffocating detail. This helps to build the climax of the novel, something that might well have loitered at the back of your mind as you asked yourself early on why Daphne was so sure that Rich was innocent, and willing to trust him blindly.

The final reveal will leave you wondering whether Daphne got what she deserved from her hard and challenging life. Whatever your personal opinions about the outcome of Daphne’s life, there is no doubt you have been rewarded as a reader and final pages will linger in your mind long after.

– Bebe Ashley

Find the ebook here:

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