#BookReview: The Wrong Child by #BarryGornell @orionbooks @orion_crime @BenWillisUK

the wrong child.jpg“Twenty-one of the 22 children in a rural village die in a disaster. By chance, the ‘wrong’ child, Dog Evans, lives. Crippled with survivor’s guilt, his parents abandon Evans to a feral life at the margins. He is shunned by those left behind, for whom his presence is a daily insult, a reminder of unbearable loss.

As the action moves from past to present and back, we learn what took place and its shocking consequences for both Dog Evans and the wider community. Gornell’s forensic gaze dissects the lives of the bereaved, fractured relationships and existences frozen the day their children died….

Deborah Cutter, separated from her husband, John, numbs her pain with alcohol and sex. Local postman Nugget holds tight to the hope that the Evans house contains valuable secrets. Parish priest Father Wittin is an embarrassing irrelevance….

As grief turns to rage, the villagers’ insatiable desire for catharsis, one final blood sacrifice, becomes unstoppable. The master of ‘rural noir’, Barry Gornell has created a mesmerising, heartbreaking examination of rural life with a remarkable note of hope within the darkness.”

Oh. My. Gosh.  Oh. My. Flipping. Gosh!  I recently read a book which totally blew me away and surpassed every other read to make it to the number one spot on my ‘books of the year’ list.  Little did I expect at the time that a similar thing would happen, only a month or so later!  The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell is a book I have seen mentioned on only a small number of blogs.  This is a travesty.  More people need to read this exceptional book.  More people need to immerse themselves in the dark and destructive world of Dog Evans and the broken people left behind.

On a fateful snowy day, the roof of the local school collapses killing everyone inside.  Everyone except Douglas ‘Dog’ Evans.  So many young lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye, children ranging in age from 5 to 12.  How would you expect a small town of close-knit neighbours and friends to react to such a disaster? Lots of support, revering the lone survivor?  Certainly not, not when the survivor is Dog Evans.  Dog Evans is The Wrong Child.  Of all the children to survive, why did it have to be him?  Dog becomes the emblem of everything the town has lost, everything that’s missing and the reason why every single day hurts.

The reader meets Dog Evans some seven years later.  No longer is he an adolescent thirteen-year-old but a young man, approaching his twentieth birthday.  Dog has been abandoned by his parents, as a child,  left to fend in every which way for himself.  The sheer guilt of being Dog’s parents has driven them away.  The reader questions the morality of Dog’s parents, Shep and Rebecca as they apparently willingly walk away from their one child.  It’s only as you progress through the story that the author begins to give you snippets of information, glances into the past and expertly begins to build this small town’s painful story.

Each chapter is either set in the present day, seven years after the incident, or the past.  The chapters set in the past focus on each of the children killed that day and the lead up to the tragedy.  What I found incredibly eerie and unsettling was that each chapter is headed by a partially burnt photo of the child the chapter is about.  This is a devastating tale in itself but these photos added so much more emotion for me.  My heart ached for these fictional children.  I was mesmerised.

The town is one hundred percent guilty and to watch these characters deal with that guilt in their differing ways was a riveting experience for me.  The priest, Father Wittin, was a particularly interesting case (I can’t say any more, buy the book to find out what I’m on about!).  A glance into the dark side of human nature…

Would I recommend this book?  Oh my goodness, I will go on about this book for YEARS to come.  It’s hypnotic and so beautifully dark.  I was enchanted and disgusted in equal measure, it’s absolutely everything I want in a book.  I am traumatised but I LOVED it.  I could not put this book down, nor did I want to.  Easily one of my books of the year (one for the books of all time list..?).  I was left heartbroken that it was over.  Absolute literary perfection!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Wrong Child.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell was published in the UK by Orion Books on 2nd November 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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BarryGornell_900.jpgBarry Gornell was born in Liverpool and now lives on the West Coast of Scotland. He is a novelist/screenwriter, ex fire-fighter, truck driver and bookshop manager. His short films Sonny’s Pride and The Race were broadcast on STV. Graduating from the University of Glasgow Creative Writing Masters programme in 2008, he was awarded a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Bursary in 2009. His short fiction has been published in The Herald newspaper, Let’s Pretend, 37 stories about (in)fidelity, Gutter 03 and Gutter 04The Healing of Luther Grove was his first novel followed by The Wrong Child, which was originally published by Scottish press Freight Books in 2016.

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#CoverReveal: Shadows by Jackie McLean (@JackieJamxx) @ThunderPointLtd

I am delighted to be part of the cover reveal team for Jackie McLean’s new book, Shadows.  This is McLean’s second DI Donna Davenport crime novel and will be published in eBook on 14th October 2017.  So without further ado, here is the blurb…

A body washed up on Arbroath beach echoes a previous murder. Now a third woman is missing. For DI Donna and her new team, it’s personal. 

 When DI Donna Davenport is called out to investigate a body washed up on Arbroath beach, it looks like a routine murder inquiry. However, it doesn’t take long before it begins to take on a more sinister shape.  There are similarities with a previous murder, and now a woman who is connected with them goes missing.   For Donna, these events become personal, and added to the feeling that she’s being watched, she is convinced that Jonas Evanton has returned to seek his revenge on her for his downfall.  Fearing they may be looking for a serial killer, the trail leads Donna and her new team in an unexpected direction.  Because it’s not a serial killer – it’s worse.

Moving from Dundee to the south coast of Turkey and the Syrian border, this is a fast-paced novel about those who live their lives in the shadows and those who would exploit them.

“Not for the first time, Donna found herself wondering how the hell she had ended up in a situation like this.”

Well….?  What do you think?  Sounds good, doesn’t it.  And now for the cover….

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That’s another book for the terrifying TBR then!  I might as well add Toxic, the first book in the series, which also looks fabulous to the list whilst I’m at it!  No point starting part-way through a series, is there…? 😉

Shadows by Jackie McLean will be published in the UK by Thunder Point Publishing Ltd on 14th October 2017 and will be available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |

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img_8948-edited_edited.jpgJackie lives in Glasgow with her partner Allison and their dog Loopy.  She has a varied background, including being a government economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop.  She is in and out of prison a lot (in her current job with social work services).  Toxic is her first crime novel, introducing DI Donna Davenport, and was shortlisted in the Yeovil Literary Prize before publication by ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd.  The sequel, Shadows, is about to be published, and she has begun work on the third book in the DI Davenport series (Run).  She runs Get Writing Glasgow, which is a kind of weight watchers for writers, hosted by the Waterstones at Braehead.

Author Links: | Facebook |  Twitter |

 

#CoverReveal: The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange by James Calum Campbell @ImpressBooks1

I am delighted to share the cover of the forthcoming Impress Books release The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange with you today.  #SevenTrials is the second book in the Cameron-Strange series by author James Calum Campbell and is due for release on 1st November 2016.  Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…

Fox stepped swiftly through the door.  There was an audible click.  And there came the sound of a bolt sliding into place.

What follows is the stuff of nightmares…

Just when the bereaved and troubled Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange rediscovers his life on the other side of the world, the British authorities track him down. They recruit him on a mission which takes him to the farthest reaches of New Zealand, to Xanadu with all its grotesque gargoyles, chief among them Phineas Fox, the American business tycoon whose baleful eye is on the White House.  There’s something not quite right about Mr Fox, and Cameron-Strange, with the help of the beautiful Nikki, is determined to find out what it is.  He survives six ordeals, but will he survive a seventh?

I can’t wait to read this!  It sounds so good and a little different, which can only be a good thing.  And now for that brilliant cover…

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Fabulous cover! You can pre-order The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange by clicking here. Make sure you join me on 1st November when I will have a guest post from author James Calum Campbell as part of the blog tour.

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James Calum Campbell is a doctor-turned-author who divides his time between Scotland and New Zealand. He won the Impress Prize for New Writers 2014 with his debut novel Click, Double-Click. He was born in Glasgow, read Medicine at Edinburgh, and practised in Papua New Guinea, Queensland, and Auckland, where he was Clinical Head of the busiest emergency department in Australasia.

*Blog Tour: Review* Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological Thriller by S E Lynes

41l3MU+CJcL“When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.

But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane…

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. 

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she?

As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…”

I am excited to welcome you to my stop on the Valentina blog tour.  This is an exceptional novel.  There is something truly wonderful and special about it.  It’s fair to say I loved this book.  It sent chills down my spine and I couldn’t put it down.  This is S E Lynes debut and I am so excited to see what else she has in store for us.

Shona and Mikey are madly in love and expecting their first little bundle of joy.  Being a responsible father-to-be Mikey finds himself a job working on the oil rigs off the coast of Scotland.  Shona begrudgingly packs up her old life and her job, says goodbye to her friends and family and follows Mikey to deepest, darkest Aberdeenshire.  It’s OK though, she has the most beautiful house to spend her days in.  Mikey’s work rota means that he’s away two weeks out of four so it’s not long before loneliness starts to creep in.  She has Isla, her baby daughter, but babies aren’t all that good at conversation!

Thankfully she meets spirited Valentina.  She’s full of life, charismatic and Shona’s saviour.  But how well does Shona really know Valentina?  Is she the answer to her prayers, or the epitome of her nightmares….?

I love how Shona is written.  A few chapters into the book and I felt I was sat in the pub chatting to a friend.  That’s how well S E Lynes has written her, she became real to me.  As I progressed through the book I wanted everything to turn out well for Shona.  Does it? Well, you’ll have to read Valentina and find out for yourself.

The plot is so very clever and quite intricate.  It was a joy to read this book and I struggled to focus on anything else as it had my full attention.  When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the characters and wondering what was going to happen next.  I even explained the plot to my husband (I don’t think he could work out why I was explaining it to him) but it was because I wanted to talk about the book with someone!  It really gets under your skin.

This is a dark story about loneliness and what we accept to be the truth, whether it is or not.  The one thing I will say, I was a touch disappointed by the closing chapters.  I wanted a little more ‘omph’ but I still loved the story and the authors style.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  A very deserving five out of five stars from me.  It’s dark, totally compelling and full of shady characters.  There’s a sense of foreboding you get from the very beginning which stays with you until the very end. Completely enticing, once you start reading you will struggle to stop.  I loved it!  As I said earlier, if this is the first offering from S E Lynes, I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Many thanks to Rosalie Love at Blackbird Digital Books for providing me with a copy of Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological Thriller by S E Lynes in exchange for an honest review.

Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological Thriler by S E Lynes was published in the UK by Blackbird Digital Books on 1st July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London for a couple of years before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband.  In Aberdeen, she worked as a Radio Producer at the BBC before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK,  she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with teaching at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children.  She lives in Teddington.  Follow S.E Lynes on Facebook or chat with her on Twitter @SELynesAuthor

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