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Opening Pages: A Book Review of Deception Island by Brynn Kelly

Deception Island reviewed by Zara West Suspense

~Keep Turning Those Pages ~

There are all kind of books out there. But the kind I like best are the ones you can’t put down. The ones that keep you awake all night. The ones you just have to finish right now, no matter what else you must to do. Deception Island by Brynn Kelly is such a book.

Deception Island features a smart, strong heroine who’s been betrayed and beaten down, and a tough, cold man who was forced to become a soldier at the age of nine.

From the beginning, these two characters are at each other’s throats and digging into each other’s cast iron defenses as they slowly reveal their pasts and come to trust, and then love, each other. Mistaken identity, constant danger, increasingly more deadly challenges, and a vicious villain make it a page turner. If you like high level suspense and can stand graphic violence, this is the book for you.

This is the kind of book I want to write. So today I am going to look at what made this book suck me in from the start.

Let’s start at the beginning: Deception Island Chapter 1

The first chapter opens with a kidnapping. But it’s not the usual type of kidnapping. We have an ex-con posing as a senator’s daughter making a solo cruise around the world. We have a man forced to kidnap her because his enemy is holding his son captive. And where does this kidnapping take place? Somewhere in Oceania in shark-infested waters.

According to Anne R. Allen there are 10 things a first chapter should do.

  1. Introduce the main character. In the opening chapter of Deception Island, we meet both the hero, a former Lost Boy soldier and the heroine, a convicted grifter, and see them at their best and their worst. As the sharks attack, boats are stolen and recaptured, and men die around them, each character digs deep into themselves to survive.
  2. Make us care about them. How can you not care about a kidnapped child or a girl all alone fighting for her life?
  3. Set the tone. Sharks? Guns? A kidnap for a kidnap? There’s no question this is going to be a thriller.
  4. Foreshadow the theme. Near the end of the first scene, the hero Rafe sums up the main theme of the novel. “He was an imbecile for thinking a past like his could remain buried.” Everything that happens in the story has been set in motion by the past. As Alan Eisenberg says in Tiny Buddha, “You can’t bury your past and pain and expect to be happy.”
  5. Let us know where we are. Moonlit bay. Trade winds. Indian ocean. Those few words in the opening paragraph are enough to set us on course for a South Seas deserted island adventure.
  6. Introduce the enemy.On page 2, Kelly has the hero text/video with the man holding his son captive. We see the terror of the child, the cruelty of the kidnapper, and the despair of the father. The author has won us over. We have to see that little boy saved.
  7. Ignite conflict. It is barely two paragraphs, but it is enough to make us hate the kidnapper. He has the hero’s son, and he is going to turn him into a terrorized boy soldier if the hero doesn’t follow his commands and kidnap the girl.
  8. Let us know what the main character(s) want. The character goals are clear from the opening. Rafe has to save his son. The girl has to save herself.
  9. Show a life changing incident. Being kidnapped sure does change one’s s life, especially when the heroine has been promised a ton of money to pretend to be the senator’s daughter. But once captured, the senator refuses to pay her ransom and abandons her to her fate.
  10. Set out who the important secondary characters will be. Right away, we can see that these two main characters will be battling a force of mercenaries who have hearts of stone. Who the individuals are is not important, but rather the fact that the odds of succeeding against  such an overwhelming force are nigh on impossible.

The open chapter of Deception Island fulfills all the requirements for a great story beginning. The rest doesn’t disappoint either. I recommend this book highly.


Deception Island by Brynn Kelly

Do you like opening chapters that start with a high level of action?

Let me know. I love to hear from my readers.

heart kiss

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