The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas #BookReview #BlogTour

A feel-good novel that will make you laugh and cry. The perfect book club read for fans of The Rosie Project, A Man Called Ove, and The Keeper of Lost Things. Charming, quirky, and bursting with heart.
This is no ordinary love story and Sam is no typical hero...but he is a hero.
Sam Holloway has survived the worst that life can throw at you. But he’s not really living. His meticulous routines keep everything nice and safe - with just one exception...
Three nights a week, Sam dons his superhero costume and patrols the streets. It makes him feel invincible - but his unlikely heroics are getting him into some sticky, and increasingly dangerous, situations.
Then a girl comes into his life, and his ordered world is thrown into chaos ... and now Sam needs to decide whether he can be brave enough to finally take off the mask.
Both hilarious and heart-warming, this is a story about love, loneliness, grief, and the life-changing power of kindness.

I'm absolutely thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas today. My grateful thanks to the author, publishers and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.
The first chapter of The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway immediately endeared me to the titular character and yet it doesn't appear to reveal much about this kind, heroic and desperately lonely man at all. Instead it focuses on his alter ego, 'the Phantasm', a new type of superhero who keeps Cherry Coke and a chocolate bar in his utility belt (a Toffee Crisp, but he would quite rightly have preferred a Spira) and who exacerbates his asthma by throwing a smoke bomb in the direction of louts who are lobbing rocks at trains. As the book progresses there are chapters dotted throughout the book that detail the Phantasm's latest exploits which become more haphazard and dangerous as his life veers out of the tight control he has maintained for years.
It becomes apparent very quickly that Sam's ordered life hides a deep sadness and he needs his nights as the Phantasm as an outlet for the emotions he has suppressed for years. Though his feats may be daring, they frequently fail, sometimes with hilarious results, at other times the consequences are more painful or poignant. By day though he works in a Japanese electrical components wholesaler where he has a moderately responsible position. He goes to the pub with his friends, takes a week off work every twelve weeks when he follows the same holiday routine every time, and keeps things stable to protect his fragile soul. However, when he meets Sarah the wall he has built around himself begins to crumble. He eventually opens up to her and reveals the terrible tragedy which changed his life so abruptly and in doing so begins to think he may be able to finally start living again.
It's not an easy process though, Sam has spent so many years carefully concocting a shell to protect him from having to face the terrible truth about what happened that even just allowing it to crack a little exposes scars that are still painfully raw. He is torn between the solace he finds donning his carefully concocted costume and his growing love for Sarah. Sam and Sarah clearly need one another; both have been broken by events in the past and struggle with the secrets they have guarded for so long. Sam's anxiety is crippling and for a time it seems as if he will retreat back into his measured yet meaningless existence but events transpire against him and he eventually realises that for the sake of the future, he must acknowledge the pain of his past.
There are some scenes in The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway that are brilliantly funny; yet even at his most inept or unfortunate, his innate goodness stands out. Sam has been existing, rather than truly living for years, the beloved comic books which sustained him during his formative years became balm which soothed him but he is a man in turmoil and his anguish is frequently heartbreaking. As I said at the start of the review, I fell in love with Sam in the first chapter and it meant that I felt his every emotion keenly, whether it was sharing his tentative happiness when he is with Sarah, his fear when it looks like he may lose everything or his overwhelming sense of loss and loneliness when it seems that he will finally be overwhelmed by depression.
Though Sam's story is one that has been shaped by the awful event in his past, The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway shines with life-affirming hope. The moments where he is most tormented are hard to read but it is the gentle humanity portrayed here - not just from Sam but from those whose lives this unassuming man has touched - which give the book its heart. There's a scene in the novel where Sam is arguably at his lowest and it is here that he is shown a simple act of compassion which moved me to tears. He hears some wise advice, 'to look closely at people to see the magic' and this is really what The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway is about. It allows us to look closely at people to see the magic of kindness, hope and love. I loved every wonderful word of this funny, moving and wise book -  Sam Holloway may not be a superhero in the traditional sense but in these cynical times, he's the superhero we all need.

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway is published by Wildfire Books and can be purchased from AmazonHive and all good booksellers. Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Rhys Thomas lives in Cardiff with his long-term girlfriend and two cats, Henry VIII and Sheldon Tilllikum Cooper.


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