My grateful thanks to Hideaway Fall, a brand new publisher, for an advanced reader copy of Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee in return for an honest review.
Broken Branches will be released by Hideaway Fall on 27th July 2017 and is available for pre-order through the publisher links here.
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.
My Review of Broken Branches
Following a family tragedy, Ian Perkins is back in his childhood home with the menacing sycamore tree lowering over his whole life.
I don’t usually read books with any form of supernatural element and I wasn’t sure if a book about a curse would appeal to me. However, I was drawn in to Broken Branches immediately. Certainly there are supernatural elements if Broken Branches is accepted at face value, with Gothic style nursing homes, mysterious noises, ethereal shapes and ghostly people, and it is a cracking read at that level, but I wasn’t convinced that this was what we were entirely meant to believe in as readers.
As the plot unfolds, with the structure linking back in time to reveal more about the curse, so Ian becomes increasingly manic in his need to uncover the truth behind that curse. The reason for his desire to do so is gradually uncovered so that the reader finds it hard to decide if this is a straightforward narrative, or the unsettled workings of a man suffering mental health issues. I really enjoyed this fascinating element of the book. It was as if there were several layers to unpick and I found myself ensnared in the story. Even at the end, I wasn’t entirely sure what I believed so that Broken Branches will stay with me for some time as I think back over its contents.
Ian is a character who becomes increasingly real as the story unfolds. The more I read about him, the more intrigued I was about what was happening in his life and his mind.
I also loved the way the text was presented. M. Jonathan Lee introduces the metaphorical image of broken branches of family and society as well as the seemingly dead branch belonging to the tree so that Broken Branches is a highly thought provoking read. The way in which the text is fragmented with a variety of sentence lengths to reflect the action and Ian’s thoughts works so well, as does the iterative image of red and blood from the tree house door on the cover to more dramatic elements within.
The themes of family, grief, relationships and rivalry that underpin the fast paced narrative of Broken Branches are written so that there is always a feeling of quiet menace beneath the surface. The relationship between Ian and his father I found completely heartbreaking.
Broken Branches is a bit of an enigma. It is also beautifully written and absorbing as it tackles taboo issues of suicide, mental health and emotional cruelty so that reading Broken Branches has a deep effect on the reader. I highly recommend it.
About M. Jonathan Lee
M. Jonathan Lee (also known as Jonathan Lee) is an award-winning novelist who has had two novels in the top 10 Amazon charts. He was born in Yorkshire, northern England where he still lives today.
His first novel, the critically-acclaimed The Radio was shortlisted for The Novel Prize 2012 and is the first in the loosely titled The ‘The’ trilogy.
His latest novel, Broken Branches, is due out in July 2017, published by Hideaway Fall.