Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee
Maturity Level: 5
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‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’
A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.
There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.
It’s hard to know what to say about this book without giving the whole thing away! This was a well-written and clever book that I would have enjoyed a lot more if it wasn’t so easy to completely freak me out. While Broken Branches was probably just the perfect amount of creepy, it was definitely too creepy for me personally. I might have some nightmares. But then, lets be honest, Are You Afraid of the Dark STILL scares the crap out of me, so…
Ahhh! And it’s so frustrating! I have the perfect “It’s ________ meets ________” description, but if I use it I’ll spoil the whole thing! Rats.
Broken Branches is a little on the slow side in terms of pacing, but still read pretty quickly, a combo I liked. The characters were interesting, and I was especially keen in learning about Ian’s relationship with his dad and his brother. Though not a happy book, it was definitely an enjoyable one. Even though I figured out what was going on pretty early on, much quicker than I think I was supposed to, the mystery of it all kept me on the edge of my seat.
The story alternates between Ian’s present investigation into his family tree and his memories of growing up on the farm. Sometimes the growing question of the family curse is expanded on in the past, and sometimes in the present. It was cool how I never knew which chapters were going to tell me just a little bit more.
My favorite thing was Ian and his wife, Rachel, and their commitment to marriage. Even though things are bad, they aren’t happy, and their marriage is literally falling apart, they are both committed to sticking it out, to doing whatever it takes to stay together. I really admire that, and it was refreshing after having lately read so many books where marriage is treated like a bartering chip.
The main reason for my 4-star rating, however, aside from the fact that it scared the crap out of me, was that I didn’t care for the ending. It was abrupt, anti-climactic, and left a lot of questions unanswered.
At no time when I was reading Broken Branches was a I really 100% sure whether I was reading a mystery, a horror, a psychological thriller, or simply a rather dark contemporary novel. It’s a story of love and loss, unhealthy relationships, mental illness, and uncertainty. Give it a chance and I think you’ll probably get something out of it, regardless of what kinds of books you usually read.