My first read of April is the latest novel from Stefan Mohamed, an author whose young adult ‘Bitter Sixteen’ trilogy was well received, and award winning. So when I heard about Falling Leaves, a new novel with an unusual premise, I was interested to find out more.
The story begins with a young woman named Vanessa, as she awakes from a nightmare which leaves her shaken, and haunted by emotions she cannot explain. And Vanessa has things in her life that could cause such emotions, including a lull in creativity alongside a somewhat unsatisfactory relationship. But as her story progress we begin to realise that Vanessa’s world is far more complicated than you could imagine. With her anxious mind plagued by a grief she cannot explain, and increasingly frightening visions, it is clear that there is something amiss in her life, something which she and her close friend cannot begin to explain. She receives a phone call which adds to the mystery further, a relative advises her that her old friend, Mark, has returned. The trouble is, Mark disappeared without a trace seven years previously, and has now turned up on Aunt Pauline’s doorstop, not looking a day older than when he vanished at the age of sixteen…
Falling Leaves is certainly an intriguing read. I enjoyed the sense of foreboding surrounding Vanessa’s troubling nightmares and visions alongside the reappearance of Mark. And in order to make sense of Mark’s appearance, Vanessa is forced to revisit memories from her past, including the grief she suffered when he disappeared. With Mark back by her side, and with the help of her aunt, Vanessa embarks on a difficult journey to find the truth, to make sense of their situation, and to uncover past secrets. This is certainly an unusual story, and there are some particularly bizarre elements to this novel. As a result there were points when I found it a little more difficult to get into this book, but this is an interesting story which deals with some key issues. It is a story that delves deeper into the lives of these young people, the challenges faced by young adults, and the importance of the relationships they build. Along the way we learn a lot about the characters as they make sense of their situation, and the tension builds as the mystery begins to unfold, and Vanessa is forced to fight for herself, and for her lost friend.
Falling Leaves is an enjoyable read which looks at the lives of young people and the memories and moments in life that prove crucial. It has an intriguing premise, with some more unusual, surprising elements which make for an entertaining read. It was published on 15th March 2018 by Salt Publishing, with thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.