Book Title: The Retreat
Author: Mark Edwards
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pub Date: 5/10/18
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?
As readers, we know the unseen elements of a novel can make or break a read for us, and the dark, oppressive feel that The Retreat provides is unnerving and exquisite.
Mark Edwards is an author I’ve been following for years, and I’ve come to anticipate his certain brand of thrilling and chilling fiction with gusto each year in the release of his latest novel. The Retreat was a bit of a departure from his last novel, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the setting and tone he chose to deliver this go around. It’s no secret that I have an affinity for novels that contain the “book within a book” plot, and once you tie in the gothic suspense vibes, I’m sold. You couldn’t convince me to NOT pick up this book, and boy am I glad that I did.
The atmosphere is only one aspect of what makes this novel a great one, but it’s such an important factor that I feel it deserves it’s own section here in my review. As readers, we know the unseen elements of a novel can make or break a read for us, and the dark, oppressive feel that The Retreat provides is unnerving and exquisite. There is a certain heaviness that never quite leaves the narrative, even after all is said and done, mainly due to that particularly devilish epilogue. Oh yes, this was another favorite portion of mine, but that’s all you’ll get from me regarding that.
There are a good number of characters, and while it did take me awhile to get everyone straight, I found it challenging (in a good way) which gave a feeling of satisfaction upon finishing the book that may not have been there otherwise. The plot is complex, detailed, and slow burning in the beginning, but once I hit the halfway mark it was impossible to put down. I love this type of book, one that gives readers the chance to develop a base connection with the characters and a starting point for the suspense, while slowly ramping up the tension until WE JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE DANG IT!
If you’ve enjoyed the author’s previous novels, you will no doubt eat this one up in record time as well. I’m loving this resurrection of the psychological thriller that contains elements of gothic horror; I think it’s well needed in a sea of domestic dramas and mainstream suspense. Highly recommended for a quick, fun read that will give you the willies, the creepy crawlies, and maybe a few sleepless nights.
*I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.