Thursday 27 July 2017

Review on Broken Branches

There is a curse in Ian Perkin's family. A curse that goes back over a century. After Ian's uncle and brother die in tragic ways, Ian decides to research his family tree in an attempt to see how far back the curse goes, and prove to his wife that it exists. Ian's obsession with the curse causes him to neglect his job and family, leaving him alone in the house after his wife takes their son away to live with her mother. Alone in the house, Ian starts to experience things he can't explain. What is the shadow lurking in his peripheral vision? Who is the small boy who comes to visit him once it gets dark? Will Ian be able to stop the curse from coming for his family, or is it already too late?

Sometimes you come across those books that you think you aren't going to enjoy before you even open them. It could be the cover or the blurb that just doesn't quite grab your attention, but there's just something about the book that makes you go into it with low expectations. This was my initial reaction to Broken Branches. Although Hideaway Fall have been lovely, and I adored the blogger pack I received from them, I wasn't really looking forward to receiving their first publication. When I started the book rather reluctantly almost a month after receiving it, I thought my first impression had been right. Apart from wanting to know more about what happened to Ian's brother, I wasn't really interested in Ian's mundane family life, and almost decided to give up a couple of chapters in. But then something changed. A change in tense to explain Ian's past, and from that point I was hooked! I needed to know more about this curse, what really happened to Uncle Stephen and what drove Stuart to commit suicide. I realised my first impression had been wrong, and I ended up not wanting to put the book down!

So more about the book itself. It follows Ian, a seemingly average man who works from home, has a nice house and lives with his wife, Rachel, and their small son, Harry. However, something a little more sinister lies beneath the surface, a family curse that goes back generations. I found the origin of the curse to be both sad and creepy, and it made me wonder if there really was a curse, or if the deaths in the family were just unfortunate coincidences. The story is told from two different timelines, one being told from the present, and the other from Ian's childhood. I found this to be initially confusing, as it took me a while to realise what was going on, and although the chapters usually alternated between what tense we were in, sometimes they broke this pattern, leading me to believe it was being told from Ian's childhood when it was actually from the present. I felt as if this could have easily been resolved by adding the date at the start of each chapter. I do realise some authors dislike doing this, as it dates their work, but I felt as if it wouldn't be a huge problem with this book, as we get a sense of it being in the modern world from the technology available. Although I did enjoy both timelines, I preferred reading about Ian's childhood, as I loved learning about what had happened to his family, and the reason why he stopped talking to them.

I felt sorry for Ian, as it was obvious that Stuart was the preferred child. Whereas on Stuart's sixteenth birthday he was told he would inherit the farm, Ian's birthday was ignored. I felt as if the only family member who treated him with kindness was his mother, and it was sad how Ian felt as if he didn't belong in his hometown anymore.

Parts of the story were told in a horror story type fashion, which I loved, and found to be quite creepy, particularly when Ian was in an empty house. I adored the imagery that went into creating a creepy and uneasy atmosphere, and I particularly loved how the tree was personified to make it seem more sinister.

Something that I thought worked brilliantly was how we were given frequent but subtle hints that something wasn't quite right with Ian's mental state, such as how he was obsessed with his family tree to the point that he neglected his job, and didn't even seem to care when he got fired. Although we get most of the story from Ian's point of view, I loved that we got to see Ian through Rachel's eyes. Ian is estranged from his family, but it is obvious that the deaths of his family members have caused a huge amount of stress and grief for him. We all deal with such raw emotions in different ways, and Ian's way is to throw himself into trying to prove that a family curse is real. Along with feeling sorry for Ian, I also felt sorry for Rachel. It was obvious that she just wanted to help her husband, but it was all becoming a little too much for her. The fact that she didn't believe in the curse at all showed just how bad Ian's current mental state was.

There are a few upsetting themes that I thought I would just quickly mention, including implied murder, depression, suicide, grief, and the deaths of children. There are a couple of death scenes that I found to be quite gruesome and shocking, with one being particularly heartbreaking, so either avoid this book or read with caution if you think any of these themes will cause you distress.

So the ending, oh my god. Obviously I don't want to spoil anything, but that was the plot twist to end all plot twists! It was completely shocking and unexpected, and gave us a little confirmation as to if supernatural occurrences were actually happening, or if it was all in Ian's head. I felt as if Ian's grief and depression were shown in a realistic way, and how sometimes we repress memories due to a high level of trauma.

I've learnt that sometimes my first impression of a book is completely wrong, as I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It deals with grief, loss and depression in a real and flawless way, with an added bonus of supernatural elements. If, like me, Broken Branches isn't the type of book you would normally enjoy, then I would urge you to give it a go, as you might just be surprised!

Broken Branches is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository


  1. This book received a lot of hype thanks to hideaway fall. It took me a while to read it too. I was pleasantly surprised when I did read it though. The writing style is brilliant and that ending! Wow I didn't see that coming either.
    Glad you enjoyed it too.

  2. I also enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would!