This is the story of Mark Stracham a man who we first meet while he is at University and he meets the young man who is to become his best friend, Will Cooper. The reader will soon discern that Mark is not a nice guy but in the claustrophobic relationships that the boys have, Will doesn’t see it. The stories of university life in the 80s certainly felt authentic as did the night of the Ouija board which was a huge talking point during this era. While at university the boys meet twins Elouise and Olivia and they soon make a tight foursome.
This is a book about a terrible event which has a huge impact on all four of the characters in different way and just as importantly the bonds that have tied them together. I’ll be honest, when the author contacted me to see if I would consider reading Rowan’s Well; “A psychological thriller involving a terrible crime committed within a family, it shows how damage inflicted on one generation can be played out on the next.” I was however, pleasantly surprised by the depth to this story. This is no glib badly treated child turning into a monster, instead as we work through the different years we see how the boy turns into a man and perhaps we get a glimpse of why.
The main setting of this book is one of a big holiday home by the sea and not only is this brought to life by the descriptions but by the vivid atmosphere created when the family, Will and Olivia and latterly their children and Mark and Elouise along with the twins mother and her toy boy. Mark proves to be a loving uncle and both men live successful lives but there is a darkness not far beneath the surface so I felt I could never quite relax even when the picture painted is one of seemingly domestic bliss.
Although we are working towards one event this isn’t a book about just this one, there are many other incidents that are fairly disturbing. The layers of this tale are engagingly added in this tale that spans from 1981 to 2004 in a rich yet disturbing description of days and events that put together tell a far bigger story. The reader is given signposts as to how close we are ‘before’ and latterly ‘after’ but with the story inching its way first towards a date and then past, notice is needed of where you are in the story, This device has the downside of giving the reader tantalising snatches of sub-plots, some of which we never get a resolution on but I do like an author who trusts the reader to join the dots and if that means I’m left wanting to know a little bit more, I can live with that.
Discerning readers will notice that I’ve written a review that tells you very little about the book so to conclude – this is a book well worth reading, the writing is engaging and feels authentic. The characters are complex and believable and the event is shocking and has massive consequences for all the characters.
I recommend Rowan’s Well for lovers of psychological thrillers who enjoy a psychological element that is slowly revealed through captivating storytelling.