Monday 5 August 2019

The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood @AlexMarwood1 @BooksSphere @LittleBrownUK #ThePoisonGarden

Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.
Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone - and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.
Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.
And that you can't walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you...

The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood was published on 25 July 2019 by Sphere. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have a real fascination for anything about cults, I'm also a huge Alex Marwood fan, so when I found out that The Poison Garden's central theme was about a survivalist cult, I knew I was in for a treat.

Oh my! This is one hell of a read. The prologue will send shivers up your spine as PC Nita Bevan; recently moved from the violent streets of London to sleepy rural Wales, makes a shocking and stomach churning discovery. Described in prose that is tense and so sharp, the reader discovers, alongside Nita, a multitude of dead, decomposing bodies.

There is one known survivor of this horror.
Romy is the 'Only Surviving Adult'; she knows exactly what has happened. She knows that everyone who was part of her 'family' are dead. She's now alone; amongst 'The Dead' as the non-cult world are known as. She's also pregnant.

Told in multiple voices, including Romy and her aunt Sarah and over different timescales, this exceedingly talented author has created a community that is both intriguing, yet slightly terrifying. As readers, we know that Lucien, or 'Father' is just an ordinary bloke with immense powers of persuasion, but for the members, and even for Romy he really is someone to be adored.

However, gradually the reader will realise that maybe Romy is not so blinded by Lucien as first thought, there is no doubt that she is dedicated to what she learnt as a member, but there's seeds of doubt there too.

The sense of evil that pervades this story is stifling in parts. I never quite trusted any of the narrators, yet I was compelled to learn more about them and could hardly turn the pages quick enough. Alex Marwood presents her readers with many questions here; nature versus nurture and how far will followers go to support their leader. Is their dedication down to fear, or to respect?

The Poison Garden is compulsive, gripping and very very dark. The exploration of family relationships and the quest for power is beautifully done, with characters who have depth, yet are so cold and so chilling.
Gloriously lyrical, this really is an enthralling and original story. Highly recommended by me.

Alex Marwood is a former journalist who worked extensively across the British press. 
Her first novel, The Wicked Girls, achieved widespread acclaim and international bestsellerdom. It was shortlisted for ITW, Anthony and Macavity awards, was included in Stephen King's Ten Best Books of the Year list, and won the prestigious Edgar Award. 
The Killer Next Door, her second novel, won the coveted Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel, was nominated for the Anthony and Barry. 
The Darkest Secret, the tale of the disappearance of young Coco, met with critical and reader acclaim. 
The Poison Garden was released in 2019. 
She has also been shortlisted for numerous other crime writing awards and her first two novels have been optioned for the screen. 
Marwood lives in south London and is working on her next novel.

Twitter @AlexMarwood1

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