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: