“Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? I don’t think so.”
A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.
There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.
Broken Branches is the fourth novel from M. Jonathan Lee, the first author to be signed to brand-spanking new publishing house Hideaway Fall. Hurrah for Northern publishers!
I received my review copy of the book a few weeks back, along with a lovely little package of tea, a pen and notebook and a handy card to politely tell people to vacate the area, because you’re in the middle of your book! I’ve needed one of those for ages…
Right, on to the review. Broken Branches is narrated for the most part by Ian, who has returned to his family home with his wife and young son following the tragic death of his elder brother. Cobweb Cottage, isolated in the middle of rolling fields, is overshadowed by a large, intimidating, ancient tree; which stretches out its brittle branches as if to pull you straight in.
The book switches between Ian’s present-day life with his wife Rachel, and flashbacks of his childhood and university years; tracing the progression of his relationship with his family and his eventual retreat from all contact with them.
Broken Branches always feels a little disjointed, the prose pulling you into Ian’s world and memories; and sowing a seed of unease from the first chapter. Ian’s relationship with Rachel has broken down over the previous year, and we don’t learn the story behind this until the end of the book. He believes that, by solving the mystery of the family curse, he will be able to get them back to where they were before.
There were some parts of Broken Branches that I found bona-fide chilling, and from about halfway through I had to make sure I was only reading it in daylight! The writing is smooth and controlled, leading the reader by the hand and sprinkling breadcrumbs through the tale as it speeds towards its heartbreaking twist of an ending.
Broken Branches is published by Hideaway Fall on 27th July – many thanks to them for the ARC.