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  • Writer's pictureJohn Dodd

Anna - ARC review, minor spoilers

Content Warning for Sexual and Physical Violence

Several weeks back, I got a free advance copy of Sammy HK Smith’s Anna, and while I finished it on the day that I started reading it, Sammy wanted me to hold back the review till nearer the time for release.

I held…

Wasn’t easy…

Anna begins with an assault, and then an imprisonment, and what can only be described as torture. This is not torture in the pulling fingernails out sort of way, this instead is the steady erosion of confidence and the lack of control where you’re in a situation that others say you should just walk out of, but when you’re on the inside of it, it’s really not so very easy.

I’ve been in abusive relationships, I’ve been there when I doubted that I was sane, that what I was going through was real, that it couldn’t be happening to me, and yet it was, and that’s how those sorts of people control you, they make you believe that you can’t fight them, that you can’t win, and that;





This is how the story begins, and an uncomfortable read it was, I did pause on many pages while I thought about what I was reading, and as the story went on, I wanted to see Anna escape, to run free, to find a better life, and she does, but her assailant follows her, and that’s when the story really comes into its own.

In the first part of the book, the scenes of imprisonment, of injury, of rape, of coercive control, were harrowing, not made lurid or titillating as other books have done, but laid bare as what they are, but it was when I got to the second part of the book that the true darkness of the situation was laid clear. What happens when you’re being controlled in plain view, when other people think that the person who is doing this to you is a nice person, that they’re your friend, that you want to spend time with them because you dare not go against them. How much worse is a prison when no one knows that you’re in it.

Anna is superb, it won’t be for everyone, because the scenes are written with such power that they burn from the page and into your mind, and the subject matter won’t be something that everyone can read.

And I understand why that is.

Some will say that it’s written to shock, to horrify people, and I don’t see it that way, this book is truth, it’s what happens when bastards can turn the world against you, it’s what happens when no one believes you, it’s what happens when the prison isn’t visible, but you’re still in it.

But you’re here, wondering what happens in the book, because I haven’t told you anything about the events in the book, and that’s for good reason, I could wax lyrical for days on this book and what it means, but all I’m doing is telling you the shortened version of a story that shouldn’t be shortened.

Anna is the story of a woman who suffers as many millions of other people do every day in silence, she finds her strength, but it isn’t enough, and she has to find more, not just for her, but for the child that she was made to carry, and the life that she could one day lead.

Anna is a masterpiece.

Available at:

Forbidden Planet


Amazon (I know there's a smile link in there, it goes to Sammy's local cat charity)

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