Thursday 22 June 2017

Clare Reviews: Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

Broken BranchesTitle: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from publisher for an honest review
Pages: 294
Rating: 4/5

Blurb: 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.

If this weren't a book I was sent for review I would, honestly, probably never have picked it up. I'm a certified wimp so anything that looks remotely creepy is going on my NOPE pile. But I was intrigued enough about this to brave it and I am so glad I did.

Firstly, it's not actually that creepy. There are some creepy elements to it and there are definitely moments you don't want to be reading at night but for the most part I would describe this as more atmospheric than out and out scary. The perspective of the book switches between Ian of the past  (growing up in the house) and Ian of the present whose marriage is suffering after "an incident" and is desperately seeking answers about the family "curse".

Ian wasn't a hugely likable character at times but he felt so relatable to me that I just couldn't stop reading and rooting for his life to get back on track. He is struggling but his struggle felt real and it just made everything so intense. Even day to day activities suddenly seemed incredibly important whilst I was reading them. We do get a little bit from his wife's perspective but it's always quite vague and I definitely didn't get inside her head in the same way. One of the great things about this book is how it plays with perspective. I, as a reader, made so many assumptions and accepted so much as fact because it came from Ian and I know I am going to re-read this at some point and try to see how much I trust his viewpoint in the future.

But the real standout quality of Broken Branches was the writing style. This isn't a hugely plot driven book. The entirety of the book is set in one location for the most part and you're following just a handful of characters so a lot of what I was reading was just general daily activity. And yet the writing style, how crisp and important every single word felt, kept me compelled the whole way through. Ian answering emails could be an interesting paragraph purely by virtue of how well Lee wrote it. 

If you need plot driven action and excitement in your books or you were hoping for something very creepy then this probably isn't for you. But if you want a book that will make you hold your breath and doubt your own perspective and just blow your mind with great writing - then definitely give this a try. I now want to read more by M. Jonathan Lee and I can say with confidence that I don't even care what genre or plot it is because it's the writing that enthralls me. 

Trigger Warnings:
Grief, Suicide

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