NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Retreat by Mark Edwards

Is it a Beddmawr urban legend or does evil walk along the banks and lurk in the woods by the River Dee?

Seven magpies scattered and flew to high branches. "How did the rhyme go?  'Seven for a secret never to be told.'

Life changed for Julia Marsh 2 years ago when her husband, Michael, drowned trying to rescue their 8-year-old daughter Lily. They had been walking by the River Dee in North Wales when she disappeared. Her body was never found even after an intense police investigation. Julia believes that Lily is still alive and has set up an author's writing retreat in the huge old stone house known as Nyth Bran where the family had lived together in order to make some money and stay close by.

Surrounded by woods, the retreat provides the solitude and quiet that Lucas Radcliffe needs in order to complete his next novel. Along with other authors who are staying at the house, Lucas settles in and hopes to find inspiration and motivation. It's not long before he and the other 3 writers begin to notice some very odd disturbances in the house. Things go missing, there are noises in the night, and they feel that someone is watching them. No spoilers, but one of the main teasers in this gothic-like tale is an old local folk tale about the 'Red Widow' -- who cursed the town after a mining accident -- and who requires that a child be sacrificed to her every 35 years or she will come and take one.

This is a convoluted and complicated suspense thriller that has many different lines of action and focus. The tenseness you'll feel while reading it comes from the tone and atmosphere evoked by the writing. The setting is perfect for a spooky tale and there are a lot of characters that you will have to keep straight in order to follow the tangled threads. The reveal is not so much a twist or surprise as it is a skillful accomplishment of plot weaving. The epilogue was a shocker for me though. I enjoyed this and the best part was that it wasn't so much scary as it was weighted with dread and sparked my curiousity to figure out what the heck was going on and how it would all end.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the e-book ARC to read and review.

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