Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Publication Date: Available Now from Serpents Tail
One hot summer’s day, John Cole decides to leave his life behind.
He shuts up the bookshop no one ever comes to and drives out of London. When his car breaks down and he becomes lost on an isolated road, he goes looking for help, and stumbles into the grounds of a grand but dilapidated house.
Its residents welcome him with open arms – but there’s more to this strange community than meets the eye. They all know him by name, they’ve prepared a room for him, and claim to have been waiting for him all along.
I have to admit to being a little disappointed with this one. Thats not to say it is a bad book but the blurb seemed to promise something different (in my opinion) to that which it delivered. When I started I thought there was going to be some mystery, perhaps something a little odd going on, but in the end it was all rather mundane.
Having said that, I did get somewhat caught up with this eclectic bunch of characters – John breaks down on his way to his brothers and seeking help in a nearby house, he is disconcerted when they seem to be expecting him- then, well, he stays. It took me a little bit of suspension of disbelief at this point, because although he was feeling rather poorly in the heat, it did seem entirely unrealistic that, if you arrived at a strangers house for reasons that could not at all have been planned, then find that they seem to have been expecting you all along and know your name, you wouldnt think “hang on a minute” and high tail it back to your car toote suite. Maybe its just the horror movie buff in me….
Anyway, once I’d moved passed that I started to become just a little fascinated by the people John encounters in the house – Hester the matriarch, Walker who I’m still not really sure about, Eve the piano player, Elijah the preacher who has lost his faith, Alex who is somewhat odd and Claire, a childlike woman who has a rather strange outlook on life. For a while I was entranced – they danced off the page, not really clarified but appealing none the less. As John becomes embedded into their world, there is some beautiful haunting writing and an uneasy feeling created in the reader that is intelligently done.
But then nothing really happens. Their day to day interaction has a kind of a plot twist running through it to do with the danger of flood and disaster that may or may not be caused by an approaching storm, and some other things I suppose, but it kind of went a bit flat. Which was a shame really, because there was a great deal of potential here.
Even now I’ve finished it (I found the ending to be a bit sudden as well) I’m still not really sure what I think about it. I have since discovered that the author had a strong religious upbringing which explains a lot of religious allegory that threads in and out of the story, but I think perhaps I am not the right audience for this in the end.
Well written, with a good premise, I just didnt feel the execution quite lived up to the promise – however having said that there is a lot here to appeal, one of those “its not you its me” moments when it comes to reading. I just wish that there had been slightly more depth given to some of the characters, it was a “character set piece” if you like, and perhaps too much attention was given to one or two characters over the others which made the whole thing feel a bit disjointed.
Lovely prose though. Can’t really fault that. But not for me.
Happy Reading Folks!