Hello my dears 🙂 Today is my stop on the blog tour for In The Absence of Miracles and I have a spoiler-free review for you!
Thank you to Orenda Books for providing me with a free ARC.
John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence. Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.
It’s difficult to know where to start with reviewing this one. I suppose the first thing to say is that it is DARK. This book certainly won’t be for everyone. But it is marvellous in that it shines a light on a subject which is not often spoken about, so for that I applaud the author.
I will be totally honest: I got off to a rocky start with this one. It was very much a book of two halves for me. The book begins with very little introduction, throwing us into the lives of these characters with hardly any preamble. Some readers might like that but I couldn’t help feeling a little thrown. I also noticed quite a few errors (like names changing within the same scene and other mistakes that really should have been caught in editing). Of course, I was reading an ‘uncorrected proof copy’ so hopefully these things will not appear in the final copy. And I don’t mention them to criticise, only to point out why I had a tricky time getting into the book at first.
However. Even in spite of the rocky beginnings, I could NOT put this book down. I was so gripped. It was slow to develop but with each new revelation, I felt myself being pulled in deeper and deeper. And the payoff was well worth the wait. The second half of this book was in another league.
Now as I’ve mentioned, this book is DARK. And it is a double-edged darkness that you can’t escape no matter which way you turn. Things become extremely visceral. In truth, this book was not what I expected and it isn’t the kind of thing I would normally choose to read (books are my escape from life’s pain, I don’t like to bring myself more hurt if I can help it). But as I’ve already stated, I can definitely see the value in telling this story. I just hope that the final book features trigger warnings because I think people need to know what they are getting into.
Overall, I would be hesitant to recommend this one due to its challenging nature but I know that there are readers out there who will really connect with it!
If you’re interested in hearing what other readers thought of In The Absence of Miracles, make sure you check out the other stop on the tour! x