Sunday 10 April 2011

Book review : Black Flowers - Steve Mosby

This is one of those books that left me feeling slightly puzzled as I turned the final page, pondering what I had just read and trying to work it all out in my mind. It's a literary Russian doll with a novel inside a novel and at times it's hard to work out what is fact and what is fiction - or, more confusingly, what is fiction about to become fact or fiction that has been repeated so often it's become fact. The boundaries are blurred and I frequently had the feeling I was watching one of the strange TV dramas from the eighties in the Tales of the Unexpected series.

The story immediately throws the reader offbalance, starting where many tales would end or offering a mirror-image of the usual plotline. It begins not with a little girl going missing but a child mysteriously appearing on a windswept seafront. She has a strange tale and an even stranger black flower in the handbag she is clutching.

We also discover two characters, policewoman Hannah Price and would-be author Neil Dawson, whose destinies start to strangely parallel each other before becoming intricately entwined. They are both following in their fathers' footsteps, having to mourn them and uncovering deep dark secrets that will make them question everything they have ever thought they knew.

The atmosphere at times reminded me of Blairwitch (and this film even gets a mention in the novel). It's a tense, chilling read but most of the time, you don't really know if anything sinister is really going on or if it's all in everyone's minds. It's part crime novel, part horror fiction but above all, a psycholgical thriller as you thrash around blindly in a darkened hall of mirrors, trying to work out what is going on and where it is all leading.

I enjoyed it and found the final chapters gripping but I think I'd need to read it again with hindsight to really understand all the complicated twists and turns that at times left me feeling disorientated. But I'm sure that was the author's intention all along, so it's certainly a success !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £12.99

Paperback 320 pages
Published 14/04/2011
Publisher Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
ISBN 9781409101116

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