This story is rare: it actually dares to offer an explanation for the kind of destructive love some of us might be unlucky enough to find. Or more accurately, the kind of destructive love which finds us. This is a story about dark love – a passion which is intense, powerful and real – a life force which at once feels like coming home whilst draining your very essence. This is inescapable love – unwanted, threatening and yearned for.
Anne Holloway’s brilliant debut novel ‘Korakas’ is filled with intensity and such vivid detail that the reader feels this must be written from personal experience and yet, this is a story as old as Greek myth and the island on which it is set. At once personal and universal, it offers an insight into the kind of destructive passion to which otherwise intelligent women can fall prey.
Set on the island of Crete, the principle characters are ex-pat English and American. Outsiders who seek to belong to another culture whilst always acknowledging a sense of ‘otherness’. As the narrative drives onwards (divided between two voices) a realisation emerges that we can become outsiders within our own lives too. We don’t always know who we are deep inside or just how readily we can surrender our sense of self to be defined by another. We can become our own observers in an attempt to make sense of emotions and actions which otherwise defy explanation.
This is powerfully and tragically played out by the protagonist Anna who becomes an outsider in her own life – subjugating herself to a lover. She becomes the narrator of her experience as she falls for this powerful man who cannot help his own dark nature and she watches, helpless as he feeds from the light she brings to him. As an observer she knows she must flee – as a protagonist, she knows she will stay.
This is no fairy-tale love story – our fair maiden is not swept off her feet into the arms of the only man she could ever love, to be carried into a sunset of happy ever afters. No. This is an ancient and mythological love story – our dark stranger finds the only woman he will ever love, overwhelms her, disarms her and will not let her go. Ever.
‘Korakas’ is compelling on all levels – the main characters hurtle headlong into a threatening situation unable to stop themselves from being drawn deeper into a labyrinthine tangle of secrets, mystery and fate. Likewise, the reader is drawn in from the very beginning by unanswered questions and an air of imminent danger: this atmospheric story will have you in its cold clutches even after the last page is turned on an uncomfortable and inescapable ending. The ending you almost didn’t want.
KORAKAS is available on Anne Holloway’s website http://www.anneholloway.co.uk/#!books/cnec and for Kindle on Amazon.