Dark Branches

Written by Nik Frobenius

Review written by Angela Hatherell


Dark Branches
Sandstone Press
RRP: £8.99
Released: July 16, 2015
Pbk

We are in Sweden, in a moodily wooded area where Jo, owner of a funeral company often goes running.  Jo has written a novel based on his childhood.  His best friend was Georg, a strange boy, who was bullied by the rest of the class because he had white hair.  He was sent to prison in Ireland, and was then reported to be dead. The novel was obviously based on true events, including the burning down of the school. A pre-publication trailer for the book is well received.

Then strange things begin to happen to Joe: anonymous letters, his daughter's doll beheaded, and then, when Emma, his daughter, goes missing on the beach she says she has been found by a man who said his name Georg. 

The action moves from Jo's house to various family huts in the woods, where Jo comes across his childhood sweetheart, Katinka, which upsets, his wife, Agnes. Then Katinka is murdered, and the investigating officer is Jenny, his friend of long standing.

The middle section of the book tells the story of Jo and Georg, tells of the weirdness of George and his obsession with violence, and we begin to appreciate how present day events mirror the past, and so lead inexorably on to the horrors close to home.

I found this book intriguing, needing concentration to keep clear about time shifts. Some readers may want to skip scenes of almost clinically described sex, and of particularly unpleasant and ingenious torture.

On a personal level I had great difficulty with Swedish names, but that didn't in the least detract from the fascination of this chilling story.

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