FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Should it not be a marvelous and extraordinary thing when you are the creator of something that makes a passel of besotted readers come to you? Like say, writing a bestselling fantasy novel that makes those besotted readers think that you’re some kind of mythological specimen? By reading The Last Safe Place by Ninie Hamman, readers – and writers – will understand that creating such a thing bode terrible consequences.
Gabriella had been beautiful once. Now, she has an ugly scar on her face. Under the pen name Rebecca Nightshade, she wrote a book that became a big success. She has fans, aye. But one of those fans has taken what she wrote in her book way out of proportion. Yesheb believes that Gabriella is Zara, the fictional character that she created and that he is supposed to mate with in order to rule an ideated kingdom. After surviving an attack by Yesheb in Pittsburgh which left her with one missing earlobe, Gabriella also finds herself being accused of slandering the man. Along with her son and her son’s African American grandfather, Gabriella goes into hiding. Will Yesheb, with all his wealth, be able to find her in time for a full moon?
Ninie Hammon tells readers it’s never a good idea to let your guard down in the starting pages. Shaking her head to let go of the effects of just having awoken from a sleep, Gabriella Carmichael wakes up with a painful and bloody future just a couple of minutes away. Further evoking a sense of panic from the reader, the scene involves rain and thunder setting a night sky ablaze. The author offers a false sense of hope. An armed guard, a golden retriever, a pit bull and a brand new security system might just save Gabriella’s skin in a stressfully tense opening scene.
In Gabriella’s childhood, she and her family had gone to stay in a cabin during one summer. It is there that she has experienced one of two childhood tragedies. The decision to make a run for it under the false surname Underhill brings her back to this cabin. Situated somewhere in Colorado and eleven thousand feet up on the side of a mountain called Mount Antero. I wouldn’t call her terribly afraid of the man that is after her. She is, but only to some degree and this notion is further given merit when she has a conversation with her attacker in Mafia sit down fashion.
Gabriella’s son Ty comes full of surprises. Even until the end. Never blinking or looking away when he makes direct eye contact with his mother, she believes that she has a son who is intense unlike any other child she has seen, but Ty purposefully maintains eye contact with his mother to avoid looking at the entirety of her face. “He couldn’t stand to see it, the ugly scarred horror that had melted away her beauty and turned her into a freak people gawked at and whispered about behind her back.” Gabriella’s scar, as readers are led to believe, is the result of Ty’s father who had, before he died, wanted to make what he saw inside her resemble her physical appearance.
“Gorgeous, but crackers.” These three words sums up Yesheb pretty well, but the full illustration that the author gives us of this man is an entirely different deal altogether. When Yesheb’s mother was pregnant with him, he was not alone in her womb. There was a brother that a doctor believed Yesheb had “absorbed”. Eaten. An unseen dark force that he simply calls the Voice had been present since he was young to propel him to make certain decisions. Gabriella’s book “The Bride of the Beast” opened up an all new kind of crazy inside him. Believing himself to be the actual “Beast” of this book and Gabriella to be the “Bride”, he is an otherworldly monster of Gabriella’s making.
While other boys had the pleasure of going to sleep to the sound of lullabies, Yesheb went to asleep every night to the sound of something else. “His father beat her regularly, broke her nose so many times it was as flat as a prize fighter’s.” Anwar Al Tobbanoft, Yesheb’s father, had also blinded his mother’s left eye. This eye is not mentioned when the author writes of a full burka that would only reveal her eyes. Bothering me about Ty on the other hand is that the only real physical detail about him that I can recall is that he has the same color eyes as his mother. Green. Since he has an African American father, I would have liked to have a better idea of what Ty looked like.
At first, it seems as if Yesheb, even with him being a billionaire oil baron and the people he employs to track down Gabriella, will never find her. But when he puts five million on the table to anyone who manages to find her, whatever sense of security readers might’ve felt for Gabriella and her son vanishes. It is Bernie, Gabriella’s literary agent, that puts the final nail in the coffin. Daydreaming of becoming an entirely new man with Yesheb’s five million up for grabs, Bernie’s own plan to catch Gabriella seems humorous at first and also like it’s not going to work. Yet, somehow, it does.
Hammon gets readers to feel the fright of her main character with close-to-home literary imagery. Imagining the main character, her son, and Theo, her son’s grandfather, and the cabin set in a mountainous terrain that Gabriella chose as a safe haven was enough on it’s own for me to keep turning the pages. Out there, a lunatic killer with a pretty face and lots of money at his disposal was trying his utmost to find Gabriella, but ultimately, it is what the author has built to that will have me remember this book forever. Ninie Hammon builds to a last confrontation that will have readers’ hands shaking with their eyes rooted on every scare.
Date Published: June 7, 2014
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