Thicker Than Water | Brigid Kemmerer

Kernel Deb reviews Brigid Kemmerer’s THICKER THAN WATER, a YA paranormal romance (at the moment) stand alone novel. Deb’s reviews just get better and better, I don’t need to say much more, there is a reason I have stepped away from writing the book reviews, the lady book Kernels put me to shame :). THICKER THAN WATER will appeal to fans of TRUE BLOOD or TWILIGHT and the like, Kernel Deb really enjoyed it, as did her Little Miss Thirteen so take that into account, you can get two or more readings from the one family :). It released from the fine folks at Allen and Unwin Book Publishers in January, you will find this one in the YA section of your local bookstore or you can obtain it HERE. Now enjoy Deb’s fantastic review…….all the best…….JK.

BY DEBORAH DAY

THICKER THAN WATER is a young-adult paranormal-romance from bestselling author of the ELEMENTALS series, Brigid Kemmerer. Told through alternating first person narratives, the dual central protagonists, Thomas Bellweather and Charlotte Rooker, strive to solve the mystery of Thomas’s newlywed mother’s death. It’s a tale of lust, trust, autonomy and control, constructed to keep the reader guessing until the end.

The novel opens as Thomas prepares to attend his mother’s funeral. Awkward in his new suit he is grieving the loss of the person who knew him best.  Relatively new to town, Thomas is suddenly left with his new stepfather, Police detective, Stan. With no close friends or family to help him cope with his grief, Thomas is lonely, angry and abrasive. Charlotte in contrast is from a cloistered conservative family where gender stereotypes are enforced by her overly-observant grandmother, mother, police officer father and three older police officer brothers, Matt, Danny and Ben. Her type 1 diabetes means that her family’s protectiveness is near to smothering.  Charlotte is feminine and sweet to external observers but underneath she reveals herself to be feisty, stubborn and capable of both kick-ass cooking and self-defence.

 

Brigid Kemmerer Author image

 

Kemmerer designs that Charlotte meets Thomas for the first time at Marie Bellweather’s funeral. Recognising Thomas’s distress Charlotte kindly assists Thomas with his tie. Unfortunately Thomas naively fails to understand that he remains the chief suspect for his mother’s murder as her death occurred in their locked house. Understandably Charlotte’s family are not keen on her being friendly with a potential murderer. With his emotions roiling inside, and provoked by Charlotte’s brother Danny, Thomas erupts with grim consequences for himself and Charlotte. A mutual but uneasy attraction ensues as Thomas and Charlotte attempt to understand one another.

Trust is the overriding issue in THICKER THAN WATER with both Charlotte and Thomas grappling with their trust of one another. Trust of extended networks and authority figures is also explored via the unsettled interpersonal dynamics between Thomas and his stepfather, Stan, and Charlotte and her brothers. It is no mistake that Thomas’s stepfather and Charlotte’s brothers are all police officers and thus figures of authority. Kemmerer uses their police positions to expose the often complicated relationship young people have with authority figures. She makes it clear that not all family members, and not all figures of authority can be trusted; they can have their own agendas, be corrupt, they can bully or they can be compromised by their own emotional baggage. Adults and all authority figures, do not always act well. For Thomas and Charlotte the challenge is working out who is actually on their side.

Kemmerer seems interested in control in her novels. In the elemental series (EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER, SPIRIT) control of the elements is an important part of the storyline. The potential for accidental or intentional harm of oneself or of others is never far from the surface narrative, with mastery of the elements coming with maturity. In THICKER THAN WATER Thomas and Charlotte’s journey to autonomous adult is tied to their attempts to master their emotions, actions and bodies.  In addition issues of identity are very much in evidence in THICKER THAN WATER. For Thomas the death of his mother catalyses a search for family. For Charlotte in counterpoint, her attraction to Thomas catalyses a move away from her family towards autonomous action. Thomas and Charlotte’s ability to act of their own volition becomes paramount as the paranormal elements of the novel unfold.

 

Thicker than Water Book Cover image

 

Kemmerer writes in the present tense. Her dialogue is fresh and authentic with a liberal dash of humour. She beautifully exposes Thomas’s need for love, understanding and acceptance as he attempts to deal with loss.  Similarly Kemmerer makes Charlotte’s endeavours to trust her own judgements and make her own choices despite her family’s warnings ring true.  Kemmerer, herself a mother of four boys understands that teenagers and young adults can act in risky ways and do stupid things. They are egocentric and are not always able to see how their words and actions impact upon, or are perceived by, others. In THICKER THAN WATER Charlotte and Thomas make many mistakes, but their actions remain understandable even if they are sometimes ill-considered, risky, misguided or clouded by emotion.

Kemmerer cites Charlaine Harris (True Blood series), JR Ward (The Fallen Angels), Simone Elkeles (Rules of Attraction), and Kristan Higgins (Anything for You) as her literary influences so it is not surprising that THICKER THAN WATER is a combination of young-adult and paranormal-romance. The paranormal component is the least successful aspect of this book as whilst it is hinted at in the early chapters, it is not until the last third of the novel that it is developed. For a stand-alone novel the paranormal component creates an unexpected twist in the story, which is interesting rather than necessary. However if this novel spawns subsequent books featuring these same characters then the paranormal component has potential for development.

THICKER THAN WATER is good. Kemmerer’s dialogue rings true and the immediacy of her first person narratives is engaging. Thomas and Charlotte are likeable and their increased self-awareness subsequent to the pain, suffering and interpersonal challenges they survive is believable. As for the paranormal element, whilst it is unnecessary, it does provides an unexpected twist for the reader, and perhaps more strategically opens the door for a potential sequel (or prequel).

 

4 Pops

 

Deborah is a lifelong lover of books, food, TV and film with a penchant for schlock horror, superheroes, science fiction, black comedy and Asian martial arts stars. She would prefer to skydive than couch surf and is a fan of zombie walks. She can be found plugged into podcasts on long walks with her dog.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.