Book reviews

“The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway” by Rhys Thomas (review)

This was a book I saw many tweets about and was intrigued by the cover description – “This is no ordinary love story and Sam is no typical hero”.

Well, I have to say, as soon as Sam is introduced at the start of this book, I loved him. I’m sure most of us are familiar now with characters like Elinor Oliphant who have bulit carefully constructed worlds around themselves – everything in its place so that nothing can get out of their control. This is Sam.

He uses this sense of control to block out a painful past. Something that continually haunts him. However, the very start of the book brings in a new dimension. Sam is also a superhero, patrolling the streets at night, bringing his own brand of justice to those who cause harm.

The descriptions of Sam and his activities are really endearing. He has maybe let himself get too carried away to the point where he pushes himself a bit too far, believing he is invincible. He gets himself into some scrapes that are quite comical and made me laugh out loud. The scene with the Polish lorry driver seriously cracked me up! 😁

Others characters we are then introduced to, are his two friends who are quite geeky and encourage him to be out a bit more (trips to the pub and laser quest for example). This is how, after an initial encounter, he gets to know Sarah.

I found the initial stages of their friendship so heart-warming and very cute. I loved his thoughts about how beautiful she is, coupled with his surprise at her actually wanting to spend time with him and get to know him.

There is a point where we come to the Christmas season in the book which I loved. The big house they were all in, the woods surrounding it and the food. It was all so atmospheric and the tension building between Sam and Sarah was amazing.

At the start of the book I could never had imagined the direction the storyline would end up taking and that is a real gift in the author’s writing. There are plenty of twists and turns and some quite dramatic events that you wouldn’t necessarily see coming.

The love story between Sam and Sarah was beautiful, at points quite heartbreaking and really well written. He has to decide to be vulnerable with her and let her in, something he’s avoided doing for so long. The relationship is not at all plain sailing and Sarah has some past secrets of her own. The pain that came across in one particular low point in their relationship was reflected in Sam words “I love you, but I know I can be happier without you.”

Sam’s journey throughout this book is filled with drama, epiphanies, some quite weird moments (including a spontaneous trip to Japan!) but most of all love. It’s not just about romantic love. The people in his life care about him and get him through his hurt and grief. They persist, they show him how much they care and he realises that life is worth living.

This book took me by surprise. It had a wonderful and sometimes surprising storyline, a fantastic cast of characters and a very loveable hero in Sam. He has his moment of glory culminating in a heart-rending and satisfying conclusion.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book. I loved every page of it and I didn’t want it to end.

“The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway” is out now!

(P.S. Many thanks to Phoebe Swinburn and her super-hero efforts to get this book to me.)

Until next time,

Jo

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