Tag Archives: Mark Edwards

Blog Tour: The Retreat by Mark Edwards

the retreat

Having read and enjoyed one of Mark Edwards’ previous novels (The Magpies) I was delighted to be invited to join the blog tour for his latest novel, The Retreat.

A missing child.  A desperate mother.  And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident.  Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home.  But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat.  One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily.  But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river?  Why was Lily never found?  And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

I went into The Retreat expecting a thriller, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this had darker undertones and an almost horror story vibe, so much so that I wasn’t entirely sure whether the outcome would be supernatural or whether there would be a rational explanation for everything.  I won’t spoil it for you, but I thought that this aspect of the novel worked really well, and it added a little something extra to the missing child story, as I found The Retreat to be an extremely creepy novel, and I loved the atmosphere throughout.

The plot was fascinating, and I desperately wanted to know what happened to Lily on that day by the river.  The police have all but given up their investigation, convinced that the most obvious answer is the right one and that she drowned, her body swept away by the fast-flowing current.  The novel opens with that day by the river before moving forward two years to Lucas’s arrival at the writer’s retreat, and so the reader knows a little more than the characters in the novel, but not much.  This was a story that kept me guessing to the very end, and I didn’t even come close to putting together a halfway decent guess as to what had happened.

The Retreat is predominantly narrated by Lucas, with a small number of chapters told from Lily’s perspective in the run up to that fateful day at the river.  I thought that this structure worked brilliantly, and whilst Lucas’s investigation continues to result in more questions than it answers, the reader gets a little more insight from the Lily chapters, although the who / what / when / where / how remains elusive until the very end.  I have to admit that I didn’t really like Lucas all that much, but this didn’t stop me enjoying the novel at all – the story was plenty to keep me engaged.  And I REALLY wanted to know what happened to Lily.

The Retreat is a brilliant thriller with a hint of the supernatural thrown in and is a novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.  Just don’t read it in the dark.

The Retreat was published on 10 May by Thomas & Mercer and is available in digital and paperback formats. Many thanks to Gabriella Drinkald for the opportunity to read and review this title ahead of its publication.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

The Retreat by Mark Edwards Blog Tour banner final

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The Magpies by Mark Edwards

the magpies

When Jamie and Kirsty first move into their flat on Mount Pleasant Street, they feel optimistic for their futures.  The flat was at the upper end of their budget, yet worth more than they paid for.  Here, they can see the future mapped out – marriage, children.  And their neighbours all seem friendly – there’s Brian and Linda on the top floor, the somewhat eccentric Mary on the floor above them and the Newtons in the garden flat.

But then things take a strange turn.  They start receiving anonymous letters complaining about the noise they’re making, and dead rats are left outside their door.  Then Jamie’s best friend is involved in an accident, one that leaves him comatose, and Jamie and Kirsty find that they are slowly driven to despair, powerless to stop the campaign launched against them.

The Magpies is the June book for Janel’s (@ Keeper of Pages) Criminally Good Bookclub, and one that I was instantly intrigued by upon reading the blurb.  A psychological thriller, it touches lightly on horror related themes – not horror as in the ghosts or monsters, but the kind of horror that happens in real life.  That’s not to say that this is a scary novel, because I didn’t find it so, but there are certainly some creepy elements to it.

I really liked Jamie and Kirsty, and found myself sympathising with their situation.  They are a young, hard-working couple who are trying to make a life for themselves together and start a family.  With some novels, it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t like the protagonist, but in this case I felt that it was important, as they haven’t done anything wrong or committed any great crime, and it was easy to identify with their anger and frustration.  And they react the way that any normal couple would – they try to ignore it, hoping it will go away, they try to discuss the situation with those that they believe to be behind it all, they eventually call the police who, of course, can’t really do anything.  It was so easy to imagine this happening to someone you know, and I was constantly thinking “what would I do in this situation?”.  Needless to say, this makes it an engaging read.

If there was one aspect of the novel that I wasn’t particularly keen on, it was the detail around the nightmares that Kirsty in particular suffers from.  It’s not a big focus of the novel, and this is purely my opinion, but it just didn’t add anything to the novel for me.  I can understand that that the stressful situation they are in would cause someone’s sleep to suffer, and that their stress is likely to manifest itself in a person’s dream, but I thought that this was a little overdone.  As I say, that is just my opinion, and as it isn’t a significant part of the novel it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment at all.

I’ve deliberately not said much about the plot for The Magpies, as it would be all too easy to give the ending away for other readers.  It didn’t turn out how I expected it to, however, and I was pleased by this.  Reading a lot of psychological thrillers, you start to see where a story might go, and it’s always nice to find one that can surprise you.

Rating: ★★★★☆