Under a Twisted Moon by Susan Simone
4 of 5 stars
Recommended for: fans of Rose Madder, werewolves, drama and romance
Read from May 17 to 26, 2013 — I own a copy, read count: 1
Amelie is trapped in more ways than one.
A long time ago when she was a young girl she was forced to hide away a part of herself that she did not yet understand. She changed to make her parents happy and for a time things stopped being so hard. Eventually she grew up and now she's the wife of Rick McConnell a soldier in a secret branch of the military. It's a life she knows and understands, she loves being a teacher and while things aren't always the best she thinks she's got a handle on her life.
Nothing is out of the ordinary until the day that one of her students gets lost in the woods and the part of herself she thought she'd left in her past comes back.
Hounded by the police, reporters and her abusive husband Amelie feels like everything is falling apart. She never wanted for the monster inside her to ever get out again and now all of the things she thought were so simple are becoming far more complex. What will she do to adapt?
Amelie is a heroine that grows over the course of her ordeal. After years of abuse she's learned a rhythm that can help her avoid her husband's wrath and when it can't the ways that she can deal with the least amount of punishment. When her past is revealed however, it becomes harder and harder to hide from what she is and what she must do to have a life. She must begin to see her inner strengths and accept that she can change the place where she's been held prisoner all these years. While she's aided by some unexpected allies it is SHE who must make the changes she needs in her life.
Under a Twisted Moon is my favorite book by Simone so far because it manages to do so much with it's 490 pages. Amelie could easily have been another PNR heroine or hallmark lady of tragedy. Instead she's a real person dealing with very real problems and not all of them were generated by her husband.This sense of realism offers you a chance to see into an abusive relationship and how it destroys both people from the inside out, especially when the root of that relationship is founded in two different pasts. We never know if Rick's abusive personality comes from his top secret military service but it does seem to have increased as the violence of that role has escalated. Amelie is in a relationship with Rick because he was an escape from her abusive parents but we often seek out that same sort of relationship when we try to set out on our own.
Amelie is confronted by the monster within. A part of herself that was villianized by her parents and hidden away by Amelie to stop their abuse. This inner monster then becomes Amelie's salvation when she finds that it's one of the many things that could have offered her strength if she had held on to it instead of locking it away. The monster then is really her freedom, her sense of independence and confidence. Her parents push this side of her away and effectively neuter her spirit, making her a victim who can then be victimized by her spouse when he comes along. The cycle of abuse not only makes people into victims of the abuser it sets the scene for other abusers to take on that same role for the victim and later the potential children born of that relationship.
Amelie's inner monster is at first broken and flawed, it has been marred by her abuse and because of this she fears it as much for the pain it causes her to address it. Over time and with the guidance of others she is able to repair the abuse and it's revealed that it was the way she chose to mangle and hide away the monster that made it hurt her.
Real life victims of abuse face the same sort of flawed outlook and rationalization for their staying in the relationship. They see the parts of themselves that could be their strengths as weaknesses, things to be avoided and buried inside, they become damaged for lack of that element of their spirit and only they can bring it back to the surface and reassemble it in a healthy way.
Clearly Simone's message here is that abuse can only crush a spirit if it is unwilling to see the strengths hidden within and wield them to gain back control of self. Amelie was always strong she only needed to see it.