Broken Branches is the first novel to be published by new independent publisher Hideaway Fall, and I was delighted to receive a copy for review ahead of its publication later this month.
‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual 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 one of those novels that I think it’s best to go into with as little prior knowledge as possible, thus I’ve “borrowed” the above synopsis from Goodreads rather than trying to write my own. I think that it’s vague enough to not give away too much, but with enough of a hook to tempt you in – family curses and tragedies, what’s not to like?
Broken Branches alternates between Ian’s childhood and the present day, after Ian and his family move into his childhood home. From the flashbacks to his childhood, we see him growing up with his brother, Stuart, and their parents – a strict and cold father, and well-meaning but ineffective mother who won’t go against her husband’s wishes or stand up to him at all. I really enjoyed these scenes – they introduce the family as well as the idea of the family curse, and these chapters encourage sympathy for Ian who, as the younger son, is passed over in favour of Stuart.
I think that this sympathy carries over into the present-day scenes, as we see Ian’s interaction with his wife and young son. I loved the contrast of the first two chapters – one sinister and foreboding, the second full of love and laughter as Ian interacts with his son, Harry, who is the very definition of adorable. It very quickly becomes apparent that all is not well with his wife, Rachel, although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear at first. I found myself trying to explain away her behaviour, and found that, rightly or wrongly, my sympathy lay firmly with Ian, who seemed to be trying to get through to her, to no avail.
Broken Branches definitely has a creepy atmosphere to it, and whilst I wouldn’t say it was scary, there are some parts where you wonder if there’s something a little bit odd going on, or if it’s all in the narrator’s mind. I love books like this – there are so few books out there that I find genuinely creepy in this way, and I love it when I stumble across one.
Broken Branches will be published on 27 July 2017. Many thanks to the publisher, Hideaway Fall, for providing a copy for review.