I am really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for M. Jonathan Lee’s Broken Branches today, sharing my review AND Jonathan’s Author Influences. I adored this beautiful book which is published Hideaway Fall … judging by the quality of their first publication, Hideaway Fall have an exciting future ahead of them!
‘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.
Oh my goodness, where to start with this review? An inheritance, a marriage on the rocks and a curse all combined with gorgeous writing make Broken Branches a beautiful and emotional read.
I was completely swept along by the first chapter in which we first meet the main character, Ian Perkins, and his property Cobweb Cottage. We learn of a family tragedy that has resulted in Ian and his family moving into the cottage and also a possible inherited curse. With gorgeous descriptions of the cottage and the imposing Sycamore tree that stands outside the front of the house Broken Branches promises an intriguing, somewhat gothic, tale and it continues to deliver.
Ian is an interesting character who is trying to prove that the curse his family have talked about through the generations exists. We meet him in the midst of his failing marriage to Rachel and, for a reason of which we are unaware, Ian believes that establishing there really is a curse on the Perkins family will save his relationship. Broken Branches is told largely from Ian’s perspective; switching between the present day in which he is completing his genealogical research and his childhood growing up in the cottage he is again inhabiting. I was really touched by his teenage experiences – his sense of loneliness, the difference in the way he is treated compared to his older brother and the difficulties in his relationship with his family members – and his love of reading resonated with me, bringing back memories of my own worn and underlined copies of Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Ian’s desperation in his search for the truth about his family grows and becomes more apparent as Broken Branches unfurls. I was with Ian throughout his journey and felt his emotions and sense of urgency.
Punctuated with brief glimpses of Rachel’s point of view later in the book, the reader begins to question Ian’s version of events adding to the captivation of the novel. This really enhanced my interest in the story that was unfolding.
Broken Branches has a quietly disconcerting feel to it which stays with the reader throughout the course of the book. There are a few seemingly supernatural elements that send delicate shivers down your spine. Lee’s prose is stunning and he uses nature to maximum effect to create atmosphere. The ominous Sycamore tree plays a large part and that, along with the other references to nature, gives it that gothic feel I spoke about at the beginning of the review. The imagery Lee presents gives Broken Branches a thoughtful perspective and an added layer that is compelling and irresistible.
Part mystery, part gothic novel Broken Branches is a gorgeous book about grief and guilt that will stay with me for a long time. Simply wonderful!
Published on 27 July 2017 by Hideaway Fall Publishing.
A huge thank you to M.Jonathan Lee and Hideaway Fall for my advance copy in exchange for my review and to Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
I will now hand you over to Jonathan to tell you about his author influences.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Roald Dahl was and always has been my favourite. I love everything that he has written. I read the short stories and Unexpected Tales over and over again.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
It was by far my best subject. As a ten year old I was sent to the headmaster for writing a story where the lead protagonist met his end half way through the story and a second character became the main character. I was told that type of writing was inappropriate.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read a lot of true crime. I am an obsessed with what makes somebody do something horrific to another human being, though I don’t like reading any of the actual grisly details. I read anything that interests me though, and usually switch between fact and fiction. I do think that it has an impact on my novels. I actually think that everything around me in life has a tiny input into what I read.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I hate sci-fi. Anything that ‘couldn’t happen’ in real life is not my thing. However, I do have this crazy sci-fi idea about a company that trades in death which comes to the forefront of my mind from time to time. Maybe I’ll write it one day.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think Mark Haddon and Joseph Connolly had the biggest impact. A Spot of Bother and Summer Things respectively.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Not really. I’m the same with music. I am obsessed and there are numerous bands I adore, but I tend to buy books and music when the mood takes me as opposed to waiting for something to come out. I’m a massive Stephen King fan, and haven’t read anything by him for about five years. Last week, I suddenly thought “I fancy some Stephen King,” and went online and bought four recent novels. I’ve read three.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Ha. So many times. Misery sticks in my mind as one.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Yes absolutely. I observe everything around me and I am always taking note of little snippets of conversations or mannerisms that I hear. So in that sense all my books have a bit of reality in them. A Tiny Feeling of Fear (my third novel) is very personal to me, and there is more in there which reflects reality than people may think. I’d recommend people watching my documentary short, Hidden (on YouTube) for more information.
Thank you Jonathan for taking part!
About M. Jonathan Lee
M. Jonathan Lee is based in Yorkshire and is the author of several award-nominated novels. He began writing seriously in 2006 shortly after the suicide of his brother, Simon, who had been struggling with depression. Jonathan is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness. He has written for Mind and Rethink charities and has a regular blog on the Huffington Post. He is divorced and now remarried, between them they have five children, two cats and a dog.
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