Rise by Karen Campbell
I had had a notification from goodreads that Rise by Karen Campbell had been published, but it was my friend Dawn who lent me the book when I said that I had not read it. It had been book of the month at her book group. Now, to lay my cards on the table, I have read novel that Karen Campbell has published and enjoyed them. I rate her very highly as a person, a tutor and as an author. She was my writing tutuor when i attended an Arvon writing course in Inverness, Scotland a couple of years ago. With that in mind, you will not be surprised that I was excited to read Rise.
The Scottish author, Karen Campbell, is a graduate of Glasgow University’s prestigious Creative Writing Masters. Her first novel, The Twilight Time, is amongst several of her works reviewed on this site at https://bookreviewstoday.info/2014/05/02/the-twilight-time-by-karen-campbell/. Karen is a former police officer who can legitimately claim to have worked the streets of Glasgow, and her debut novel, described as ‘gritty as hell, shot through with black humour’, weaves personal insights and experiences to take a look at life behind the uniform.
Since completing her crime quarto, she has moved publishers and genre. Rise is quite a different kind of book. It begins with the protagonist, Justine on the run from her psychopathic pimp and lover, Charlie Boy, with a big chunk of his money stuffed down her pants. It is a cracking opener, packed with tension and evocative detail. Shortly after, Justine blunders into Kilmacarra in the North of Scotland and straight into the heart of domestic turmoil and political unrest.
Karen is a talented writer with a gift for creating characters that are honest, flawed and likeable. Justine witnesses a hit and run and she is sucked into the troubled marriage of the Andersons, whose elder son is the victim. Justine is roped in to babysit the Anderson’s younger son, Ross, having passed herself off as a certified nanny. Their lives become tangled together in threads of guilt and love, with Scotland rushing towards a referendum and the community around them fracturing, each character must question where they truly belong and each must find a way to face their ghosts.
However, despite the fact that Rise has so much that works in its favour it fails to really soar, especially after the glorious opening and engaging middle portions. Inexplicably running out of steam, it sputters weakly over the finish line. The plotlines are resolved with varying degrees of success but it is all rather disappointingly pat. I hate to say this about any work by Karen Campbell, but, if I had my time again, I would not read Rise. I give it three stars beacuse I cannot bear to give any novel by Karen Campbell any less.