My review: The Retreat, by Mark Edwards

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About the book:

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?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.

My review:

I have been a fan of Mark Edwards’ books for a while now and was looking forward to this novel.

Going straight to the point, I really enjoyed ‘The Retreat’.  I loved the setting and beautiful presentation of the place. I absolutely adore Wales and the book reminded me of my travels there. I loved all the mysteries and how the plot was revealed in a good, dynamic pace. The best quality of Mark’s books is that it is hard to guess what is really going on, there are so many twists and turns that keep the reader entertained and glued to the pages. That’s what usually happens to me – if I start Mark’s book, I can’t stop until I finish it. Work and life get in the way, but I stay focused 🙂

I also enjoyed an element of the urban legends. It reminded my childhood where we all heard some old stories and were retelling them in different words to the younger ones, adding some particularly scary details. The interesting thing about the urban legends that they founded on something real that often has a simple explanation but a complex reason.

The main character Lucas is quite relatable. He struggles with writing his next horror novel, hence, comes to this new writers’ retreat. I am always curious about the life of the authors, their challenges and successes, so it was good to read a little bit about that as well.

There was one thing that wasn’t believable for me but I keep it a secret not to spoil a book for you.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller with little flashes of horror (but not too many ;). Mark’s plots always bring something new and keep you entertained.

Books on the train: The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndza

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About the book:

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

My review: The woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

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About the book:

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

My review:

Generally, the book was quite entertaining which highly affected the score. It was an easy read, the plot is flowing well, despite obvious discrepancies and questions that never get answered, and keeping reader’s attention. It did remind a little bit of Agatha Christie’s murder style when a murderer is among a small group of people in a confined space. And that’s where the good ends for me.

I am honestly getting tired of women, the main characters, who are damaged, have psychological or substance abuse issues and who can’t get their shit together and can’t figure their own life out. It looks like the stories about ‘Girl on the train’ women attract all the action, interesting and unusual things happen to them, and it all deserves the whole plot to win readers’ hearts. Disappointing and seriously exhausting. ‘Normal’ girls (without anxiety, alcohol abuse, or broken relationships), don’t deserve to be in the books anymore. Hence, I couldn’t relate to Lo at all in this book. Couldn’t really understand or sympathise her.

The plot itself, despite being entertaining, has a lot of questions and doubts that never get resolved. It makes you think that those details were not that important if the author completely ignored answering them. Those moments also don’t make a reader wanting to fantasise about possible answers.  

My score is 3* out of 5*.