Broken Branches was the first book received from new independent publishers, Hideaway Fall. This is the fourth novel by M. Jonathan Lee, and with its promise of a sinister tale about a family curse, I was looking forward to finding out more…
This novel focuses on Ian Perkins, a man who moves back to an isolated cottage in the wake of a family tragedy. With his wife and young son in tow, Ian returns to a cottage that for him holds bad memories, a place that has a sinister feel to it – particularly the tree that stands alongside it. And as Ian deals with the grief of another family loss, it becomes clear that things may get worse for him and his family, as the presence of a ‘family curse’ lingers in the back of his mind. Determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious curse, and to save his family, Ian tries to piece together his family history, looking back at past tragedy and disturbing memories. In the process he faces some uncomfortable truths, as he is forced to look back on the loss and tragedy that has befallen his relatives in the past, and to find a way to secure their future.
Broken Branches is told through the use of two timelines with the chapters alternating between Ian in the present day and in the past as he relives his life and past difficulties. Once I settled into the story a little I found this was a good way of portraying the extent of the tragedies and the impact they had on Ian over the years. Alongside this we get to see Ian’s obsession and desperation with trying to find a way to prevent further pain for his own family. The talk of the curse throughout gave the story a chilling, supernatural feel and this was also helped with the style of writing which made for an atmospheric read. There were sections of the book that were of a slower pace, but there was a feeling of unease throughout as to what could be revealed or what may happen next and the prospect of an impending incident added to the tension. This was certainly an intriguing read that kept my interest throughout which explored various themes surrounding family life.
Broken Branches is an enjoyable read about family relationships, love and loss, fear and grief. It is a story with a contemporary feel which has elements of a gothic, supernatural mystery.
Broken Branches is to be published on 27th July 2017 by Hideaway Fall. Many thanks to Hideaway Fall for providing a copy for review.