Title: Broken Branches
Author: M.Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’
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.
So. This is quite a difficult review to write – or to know where to start writing it – because Broken Branches left me thinking it long after I’d finished it. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll try to keep my review suitably vague…
The narrative focuses mainly on Ian and his life with wife Rachel and son Harry, though there are parts told from other perspectives too. Ian’s determined to trace his family history and find out more about this curse that’s supposedly afflicted his family for many generations. However we soon that his marriage seems to be crumbling away, with wife Rachel suffering from what seems to be severe depression and Ian seemingly too engrossed in his ‘research’ to really comprehend this properly…
In Broken Branches author M. Jonathan Lee manages to convey a rather eerie tone, with mysterious going-ons which remain thought-provoking and intriguing without being too ‘obvious’. There are also plenty of really ‘grounded, real-life’ sort of moments, where you feel like you could be reading a normal description of strained family life, before suddenly being faced with unexplained, often half-seen occurrences. I don’t generally tend to read any supernatural-style books, but this feels like more than that; the whole story has a very Gothic feel to it, with elements of death, family, horror and relationships, without fitting too neatly into any one category, which is why I think I enjoyed it so much.
The theme of mental health is definitely prevalent, and I really liked the way that it makes you think about the subject and its effect on the people who have to deal with this.
At times the way the novel flicked between different time frames could be a little confusing, and I guessed part of the ending a while before I got to it, but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment – the way that the author slowly pulled the story together in front of me left me thinking about this novel long after I put it down.
Broken Branches is an atmospheric, intriguing read and a great first release from new independent publisher Hideaway Fall!
Many thanks to Hideaway Fall for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.