Saturday, 12 December 2015


Title: Beyond The Fence
Series: The Dartmoor Chronicles #1
Author: Jen Minkman
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & more!
Publisher: Dutch Venture Publishing
Release Date: 20th November 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
"People turn their heads when I walk past them. They know where I’m going. My feet almost stumble on the uneven pavement of the cobblestoned street when I sense Mark’s gaze on me. This is the only time he takes notice of me, and it’s for a reason I wish didn’t exist. All the other times I want him to see me, his eyes skip right over me. I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothes to these people. A potential threat.

I already know what will happen once I get to the Clinic. I’ll have to talk to that clueless psychiatrist so he can measure my possibly violent tendencies. Because that stigma has been on me ever since I turned twelve and the person I loved most in the whole wide world was Purged from this city.
My name is Sarah, and my father was a violence offender."

Return to the world of the Island series and meet Sarah, resident of Dartmoor City. She's bitter, she feels trapped, and she wants nothing more than to venture beyond the fence that's keeping her in. She just has no idea how to. But when she discovers a secret that President Jacob would rather keep under wraps, Sarah is forced to make a move for freedom - because she meets a guy who is even more of a prisoner than she is, and he desperately needs her help.


Well I read and really enjoyed The Island Series, I think I remember saying the only part I wasn't so keen on were the Star Wars references so I'm not sure how much those references will appear in this series. Having said that I am thoroughly looking forward to learning more about Bodmin and Dartmoor City and their ways of living and their anti-violence rules and regulations.

I heard about this book via Jen Minkman's Newsletter, she was actually offering free copies of her book to Newsletter subscribers. However when I went on to Amazon to find out when the book was actually released and saw it was actually out now! and it was at the special offer price of just 99p I couldn't resist and I purchased it and began reading almost straight away. I had really enjoyed Jen's The Island Series, so was interested to read more about characters we had already met. This book also covers the other side of the story, in that it tells us the reader more about the places that Tony and Henry lived, and we are introduced into their families and friends. I think Jen has once again done a brilliant job with the cover design, I'd guess from reading the book that the female in the field is probably one of the main characters we follow in the book, Sarah Hart. I find the font size and style pleasing and it stands out enough whilst not being too obtrusive in the scene on the cover. Maybe if I were to change anything there could have been either a byline or something that lets the reader know that this is a spin-off/companion series to The Island. I think this cover also feels cohesive enough to The Island Series covers too.
So would the cover make me pick this book up from a bookstore shelf? Yes, I'd want to know who the female was and why she is alone and what she is doing in the field? Another fantastic book cover from Jen Minkman!
So I downloaded this one onto my tablet and thought I'd just read a page or two to see who was in it and finally put it down at just 11% though it was a struggle to put it down! After that when I returned to the book I seriously didn't want to put it down. The story is quite addictive, as The Island was. Also as we know from The Island Series the people on the mainland life a pacifist style life with violence and strong emotion severely and swiftly punished.We meet the first of the new characters immediately, it's Sarah Hart, and we truly feel her shame and embarrassment as she walks to the clinic for one of her twice weekly checks. Sarah's father was purged which marks her, and her younger brother Timothy as been at possible risk of emotional/violent outbursts. Such people are known locally as red stamps. Red Stamps are considered to be the lowest class and cannot hope to gain a good job with prospects, or ever leave Dartmoor City, or lead a full or happy life really. They are always looked down on, shunned and sometimes ridiculed and left out of important society events. Red Stamps also have to attend the clinic to be subject to continual assessment. The official, politically correct reason for this is to prevent them being a danger to society as well as allowing them to become "normal" citizens again if they pass all the tests they are subjected to. However no one has ever passed all of the Clinic tests, the majority of Red Stamps are made to drink a herbal tea which varies in strength. The descriptions of the older Red Stamps on larger doses of the herbal make them sound almost catatonic and only able to hold down the easiest poorly paid jobs. Sarah will soon be coming to the point where she will be assessed and more or less sentenced to the dosage of herbal tea she must take for the clinic and society think she is safe to be around. 
Whilst attending the clinic, Sarah accidentally meets a man who is being held prisoner there. . ..he is a character we met in The Island Series who is been kept prisoner and is being used as medical research project by President Jacob, who is trying to find a cure for an ancient disease that it seems the prisoner is somehow immune to. Sarah inadvertently becomes kind of friends, or perhaps more associates with a fellow red stamp Ferris. . . or Ferret as he is cruelly called by the other kids at school. 
The other main character in this book who is also instrumental in Sarah's escape from her increasingly oppressive life is Kian Bharatsingh, the nephew of Tony Bharatsingh who was a main lead character in The Island Series. He is also living an oppressed existence in Bodmin, though it isn't as controlled as the rules and atmosphere in Dartmoor that Sarah lives under.
Kian's father has already requested that Tony's body be returned to them for a proper family burial but has been refused, so Kian has requested the body be returned too, though sadly he is turned down also.
Kian and his two friends regularly use a solar powered car they share to go on scavenger hunts for glass items that are in varying degrees of demand for. They sell their finds and share the money. The finder of the item gets a slightly larger percent of the money and the other two share whats left equally. It is money from this hobby that enables Kian to travel to the last place his Uncle Tony was seen, Dartmoor City to dig around for clues as to what really happened to him. The story they received from President Jacob didn't seem accurate behaviour for Tony. 
I could seriously go on and on about this book there is so much going on, and how the two main characters are brought together is brilliantly written. 
Though I loved the character of Sarah and Kian, I totally adored the smaller character role of Michelle who ends up being quite instrumental in both their lives and plans. 
This story has lots of mystery, secrets that are revealed to you as they are to Kian and Sarah. It's great how they eventually cross paths as if they are meant to be together, and that their separate smaller quests are joined together to form a larger quest that becomes the central story for the series. I also found the twist ingenious that happens in the latter part of the book. The book is also quite emotional, the build up where you think Kian may be right that his Uncle could be the prisoner held at the clinic, the uplifting feel when the three characters on the run find a boat for the water crossing they need to make as if fate is finally on their side. then the awful twist when they think the first part of their dangerous mission has come to an end safely and they look out to see. . . . to learn that fate was most definitely not on their side but an awful calculating man had in fact set a trap for them and they had sadly fallen for it without a second thought! 
The ending has such a cliffhanger too! It has certainly made me extremely eager for the rest of the series!
So did I enjoy the book? I fell in love with it's characters and storyline almost immediately. I didn't want to put this down and really looked forward to my "reading time" with this book. Would I recommend the book? Yes! this series is designed to be read after you have read The Island Series, as some of the characters cross over both series, but you could still read and enjoy this book if you haven't read The Island too. Would I want to read more in this series? Oh yes for sure! I'm impatiently awaiting the next book in this series. I want to know how Sarah plans to bring down her "enemy" and who will join her in her fight to free her repressed society. I also want to know if anything will happen between Sarah and Kian, I think they would be perfect for each other, both have lost ones they loved dearly. Would I want to read more by Jen Minkman? As I have said I have read other titles by Jen, such as The Island Series, I've read the Boy From The Woods, Shadow Of Time, as well as Sound Of Siren's bk#1 of the Tales Of Skylge series too. I really enjoy her writing style and unique idea's, as well as the societies and characters she creates. You really learn to care about her characters. Her plots also make you think about how you would react if you were the one in that situation.

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