Book Review: The Retreat by Mark Edwards
August 27, 2019
About the book
The Retreat follows Lucas, a horror novelist, who decides to go to a writer’s retreat in a small village in rural Wales.
Julia, the owner of the retreat, carries a tragic past with her. Two years earlier, she lost her family. Her husband drowned trying to save their only child, Lily. The child’s body was never recovered from the river, but the police investigation was closed, with Lily presumed dead. But Julia refuses to accept this, convinced that Lily is still out there somewhere.
When Lucas finds out about Lily, curiosity gets the better of him, so he decides to carry out his own investigation. But as he delves deeper into the case, he finds out that this little village is strangely superstitious. With stories of witches who take children, and strange occurrences taking place in the writer’s retreat, he and his fellow writers begin to question their own judgment, and even sanity.
The Retreat keeps you guessing throughout – could this town really be haunted by witches and ghosts, or could the real monsters be those living amongst us?
This was a book I couldn’t put down, and I finished it in 2 days. Each page kept me gripped, and I was torn between wanting to devour the whole thing as quickly as possible so I could find out the ending, and not wanting to finish it because then it would be over.
I recently started going into books blindly, not reading what it’s about first, basing my decision on whether I want to read it on the genre, title, cover, and/or author. I like the mystery of it, and sometimes feel the blurb can give too much away.
So when I don’t know what to expect, not even the general gist of what it’s about, I need a book to draw me in quickly. The Retreat did exactly that, with the prologue hooking me in straight away. As I got to the end of the prologue, my mind was immediately whirring with thoughts of “and then what happened?!”.
It’s the kind of prologue that gives you a head start – a key piece of information which means you’re one step ahead of the characters throughout the book. But not enough to give away any of the mystery. If anything, it left me with more questions, and I was desperate to find out the answers.
I so wanted to see the characters finally catch up with what I’d known for so long, and to find out how they’d react. With so many different mysteries in the book, I felt myself suspicious of everyone. I think I suspected every single character of something or another at some point during the book. Second guessing everything and everyone, I felt like I was carrying out an investigation myself. A sort of book equivalent of wanting to shout at the TV, desperate to get through to the characters, even though you know you can’t.
The vivid imagery described by Mark Edwards – the attention to detail when setting out the scenery, buildings, and characters – allowed me to be able to fully focus on the story, rather than spending time trying fill in blanks and work out for myself what I thought the author was trying to convey.
I read this book in Bali, with sand beneath me, the sun shining above me, and a view of the beautiful sea. A million miles from the rural village in Wales I was reading about. But Mark Edwards transported me there, making me feel like I was really immersed in the story. But all from the luxury of a sunbed on the beach!
I’m always a bit nervous about reaching the end of a book I’ve enjoyed so much, because an anticlimactic is always so disappointing. But The Retreat didn’t disappoint at all. This really is a book that will keep you shocked from the prologue, right until the very end.
Let me know your thoughts!
If you’ve read The Retreat, what did you think? If you haven’t yet read it but would like to, you can get a copy here! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!