Hideaway Fall hit big with his launch of Broken Branches, with lovely packages a few of us were lucky to get! I am careful when I see such campaigns because I have seen publishers use this for books that would not -in my opinion- deserve such a fuss. But Hideaway Fall was so right to promote Broken Branches, and I am grateful to have received a copy! Now let’s get into the real deal!
Title: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
Date of publication: July 2017
Format: Physical Review Copy
Number of pages: 294
‘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.
Some books you remember because of their plots. Other for their characters. A few for their writing. There is always something special that stays with you. Broken Branches made me fall for its words.
I had not idea where I was setting foot when I started the book. I had categorically refused to read the blurb, letting my mind cling to the beautiful, inspiring and somewhat sad cover instead. The surprise was big, challenging, and complete.
Ian is looking for answers. A big fat tree, a cottage, dying family members. There must be a solution to the equation. Do family curses really exist? Can you get rid of them in any way? What’s hidden behind this curse? I was intrigued, skeptical, but intrigued!
What started as a simple but beautifully descriptive prose soon turned into claustrophobic and obsessional narration. I was reading about days passing by, and with every hour I could feel something was wrong. But the words had the upper hand and they kept leading me astray, following Ian in his scavenger hunt, putting aside the nasty and ominous feeling in my chest. I could not put my finger on what was wrong, as if I could only see the story through a glass that hid the half the meaning of the words. Broken Branches is a slow walk into a garden full of shadows.
It seemed to him that the closer you were to someone, the more possibility there was that they would interpret something you did or said in a different way than it was intended.
A simple man living a somewhat boring life with a quite absent wife. This is how I perceived Ian at first, as the introduction to his world made me see and feel through his eyes. A cute boy very close to his brother, that’s what he became in the flicking narration that followed. Each page makes you dive deeper into Ian’s life, thoughts, past, and path, laying the ground in a quiet rhythm until you get the entire picture. Until you feel the pain oozing from the ink, until you realize what you have been reading was a tailspin and the book finally makes sense and pulls at your heartstrings. I can’t discuss the plot more without taking away the beauty of it.
I had an idea about the reason behind it all during the last part of the story, but it never hindered my experience with the book. I floated in an ocean of feelings. I let Broken Branches show me how to explore the depth of the hardest emotions and a way to cope with them. I questioned Ian, I questioned his wife Rachel, I wondered about the place, I reflected upon the influence of family, I pondered over some “maybe”s.
As I said before, Broken Branches is on the slow side of pacing, like the ticking of a clock taking you to the dreaded midnight ring.
I had no idea of what I was witnessing. No, I did not cry, scream, or talk to the book. I needn’t to. The words did it all for me. I can only praise the author’s style for telling so much without showing too much, for using words as a bridge between his readers and his characters.
Broken Branches is a superb work of writing that takes its reader by the hand to the very end of the road. And back.
I would like to thank the Hideaway Team for providing me with a copy of this book and a wonderful package to go with it. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.