Amy J. Heyman
Little Creek Press (2018)
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (7/2021)
At its heart, “Tremorna” is a story of a mother protecting herself and her son, going to great lengths to ensure the abuse and illegal activities of her husband are not poisoning her son’s childhood. But how far is far enough to escape a determined husband and father?
Set in England in the 1800s, the Dugan family is at a crossroads. Jeremy seeks to provide for his family through smuggling activities, common in this time period, but after hitting his young son Matthew, Kerena decides she’s had enough and begins planning their escape. Changing Matthew’s name to Tommy, she places him in the care of an orphanage and becomes a nun. Meanwhile, Jeremy is caught smuggling and placed in jail for nine years. While Jeremy serves his time, Tommy grows into his own mischievous young adult, until activities come to a head and the story wraps up in a perfectly contained ending with no stings left untied.
Author Amy J. Heyman, loosely transports readers into the 1800s as she portrays the activities of smuggling men and aptly uses the dialect and language slurs of the times. However, despite the backbone of the story surrounding the Dugan family, readers are introduced to many, many characters who each begin to take bits of the spotlight from the key tale. Branching off from the main story, readers are quickly introduced to several side stories. Stories ranging from orphanage romances to the Priest’s own extracurriculars, much is contained within the less than two hundred pages housing this read. Regardless, Heyman has culturally enriched readers, introducing us to the ways of the gypsies, smuggling exploits and orphanages in the 1800s. No stone is left unturned, as much is portrayed within.
This short read ultimately culminates with a final bloodbath of a scene, leaving “Tremorna” to be a wholly self-contained book with no loose ends. Every character introduced, from the orphanage to the townsfolk and the traveling men, are given a proper final send-off as readers are told of their finality before the last punctuation mark is put to the page. The lengths of a mother’s love and themes of nature versus nurture are woven deep.