I’m a huge fan of John Marrs – both as a man and an author – so I couldn’t be more delighted than to participate in this blog tour for his latest book, Keep It In The Family. My huge thanks to Zara Gillick and Rhiannon Morris for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Keep It In the Family and to FMcM Associates for sending me a copy of Keep It In The Family in return for an honest review.
I was privileged to interview John at the Deepings Literary Festival earlier this year and he and his books have featured on Linda’s Book Bag many times. You find all those posts here.
Keep It In The Family was published by Thomas and Mercer on 25th October and is available for purchase here.
Keep It In The Family
In this chilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets―and not all of them are confined to the past.
Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their dream home was once a house of horrors.
In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Haunted by the terrible things she saw and desperate to find answers, her obsession pulls her ever further from her husband.
Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family―but is it already too late?
My Review of Keep It In The Family
Mia and Finn have bought a house.
It’s going to be impossible to review this book without giving too much away so I fear there will be a vagueness to my comments as I don’t want to spoil the story. From a dramatic prologue right through to the jaw dropping finale, Keep It In The Family is a fast paced, twisty and disturbing read that I found myself unable to put down. There were aspects I didn’t want to read and yet I couldn’t tear myself away, such was the power of John Marrs’ writing.
There’s a really interesting narrative structure in Keep It In The Family, with the story predominantly told from Mia and Finn’s perspectives as well as Debbie and Dave’s, from that of an unknown person and interspersed with more dispassionate transcripts that act as a contrast to the intensity of the story. I thought this was an excellent technique because it gave me a chance to catch my breath and heightened the tension of the other narrative elements.
In Keep It In The Family John Marrs explores maladjusted relationships at their most extreme in a fast paced and compelling plot that left my head reeling. I kept thinking of Tolstoy’s ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ except here it’s more ‘each dysfunctional family is dysfunctional in its own way.’ Keep It In The Family is a terrifying, convincing insight into nature versus nurture that is spellbinding and the most horrifying aspect is that the story is completely believable.
What’s so unnerving is that Keep It In The Family explores really positive themes like love, loyalty, the desire to protect the innocent, and, obviously, family relationships, but this is no joyous, uplifting read. Rather, John Marrs illustrates to perfection the warping of values, how we justify our actions and the deep potential for evil that exists in the most unsullied of characters. I’ve always desired to practice mindfulness properly, framing the moment with complete concentration. Now I’m not so sure, but you’ll need to read the book to find out why!
The characterisation is outstanding. From Finn to Mia and Dave to Debbie each person is so complex, realistic and mesmerising that I almost felt tainted by reading about them, by their subtleties and by their actions, however evil or innocent they may be.
I’m not sure if I can say I enjoyed Keep It In The Family because it was so utterly, overwhelmingly, absorbing and unsettling in a way that makes the reader wonder just what is going on in the minds of those around them. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that through his storytelling in Keep It In The Family, John Marrs has made me question my own sanity and actions. All of that said, I thought Keep It In The Family was absolutely brilliant and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a cracking read!
About John Marrs
John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. In 2021, his speculative novel The One was adapted into a 10-episode drama series for Netflix by Misfits creator Howard Overman, and his seventh novel What Lies Between Us has been optioned by Renee Zellweger’s production company at MGM TV.
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