Source: Review copy
Publication: 10 May 2018 from Thomas & Mercer
A missing child.
A desperate mother.
And a house full of secrets.
Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.
Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.
When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…
What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?
Take one idyllic setting, a writer’s retreat in Wales. Inject a young and attractive widow as our hostess. Scatter a crumb of unorthodox writers and layer onto it an author struggling to overcome a personal loss whilst trying and failing to finish his latest work. Frost with creepy, supernatural overtones and finish with a strong hint of urban legend, and you have the recipe for Mark Edward’s latest book.
Part supernatural, part horror, part urban legend, this is a book that has everything you look for in a creepy crime novel. Lucas Radcliffe is a horror writer. After years of struggling, he has finally written a bestseller and now he needs to deliver his follow up. But it isn’t long since he lost his lovely girlfriend, Priya and he is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block and so he books himself into a quiet writer’s retreat in Beddmawr, rural Wales, close to where he grew up.
Julia has turned her home into a writer’s retreat because she needs an income after losing her husband Michael in a tragic drowning accident that also claimed the life of her young daughter, Lily; though Lily’s body was never found.
Julia wants to believe that Lily is still alive despite all evidence to the contrary. Lucas is drawn to Julia; something about their shared tragedies makes him want to make Julia whole again. But when strange nightly occurrences begin to spook the writers, they begin to wonder whether the cottage is haunted.
Surrounded by dark woodlands and miles from their nearest neighbours, this is a fetid atmosphere in which imagination flourishes and old stories take on new meanings. In Beddmawr, the local legend is that of a woman, the Red Widow, who comes to claim a child every 35 years and as long as she is able to do so, the other children in the village will be safe.
Lucas is pretty sure that this is all nonsense and he wants to help Julia move on with her life, so without saying anything, he takes steps to try and find out what actually happened the day Mark drowned and Lily disappeared.
This will be the catalyst for a series of unfortunate occurrences that will put the lives of Lucas and others in danger, and as he slowly begins to piece together the stories from the villagers, the urban legend and the spooky events, every step he takes will lead him down a dark and dangerous path offers no return.
The setting is beautifully fetid and atmospheric and Edwards makes the most of it as he whips his concoction into a flurry of rumour and legend that has everyone at sixes and sevens. With a fast bake and a dose of alcohol laden wit, this is a tasty number that should be on everyone’s menu.
Beautifully eerie, very compulsive and quite heart pounding this is a book that smoothly blends legends and facts until separating fact from fiction becomes an all-consuming task.
I gulped it down and would happily eat it all again.
About Mark Edwards
Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which terrifying things happen to ordinary people. Mark’s first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on the Amazon UK Kindle bestseller list, as did his third novel Because She Loves Me (2014), and Follow Me Home (2015). His previous novels, The Devil’s Work (2016) and The Lucky Ones (2017) were also published to great critical acclaim and commercial success. He has also co-written various crime novels with Louise Voss such as Killing Cupid (2011) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). His titles with Amazon Publishing have reached over a million readers.
Mark grew up on the south coast of England and started writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year, and is a great admirer of Japanese writers and horror films. Mark lives near Wolverhamtpon, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat. The Retreat was strongly inspired by local folklore and urban myths from Mark’s childhood and by his daughter Poppy. When walking their dog in the woods, Poppy told Mark a story about her friends arguing about whether a local legend was true or not. Poppy and Mark would brainstorm ideas for the book on their daily walks, and Mark now credits her as his co-writer and a budding author herself.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MrEdwards
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