Monday, 17 November 2014

Book review: The Prophecy of Bees by R.S. Pateman


My edition: paperback, to be published on 20 November 2014 by Orion, 362 pages.

Description: When Lindy, a recently widowed American expat, buys a large manor house in the Cotswolds, she thinks it's the fresh start she and her wayward daughter Izzy need. Stagcote Manor is a large, rambling house with a rich history and Lindy is thrilled at the prospect of their new life there.

Izzy, however, is less convinced. She longs to be back in the hustle and bustle of London. There's something unnerving about the house that she can't quite put her finger on. And as Izzy begins to immerse herself in Stagcote life, she gradually realises the locals have a lot of strange and disturbing superstitions, many of them related to the manor.

When Izzy begins to investigate the history of the house, her unease soon darkens to fear as the manor's dark past finally comes to light.

Rating:



Last year I had the privilege to read excellent debut novel The Second Life of Amy Archer by R.S. Pateman (read my full review here) and so when the author asked if I would like to review the second title by his hand as well I jumped at the chance. While The Prophecy of Bees also has elements of a psychological thriller and an underlying mystery, which both the main protagonist and the reader uncover at similar times, for the most part the resemblance ends there.

Instead of a plot involving the loss of a missing child, this time around it is the child, or teenager I should say, that takes centre stage. Because the story is told in an adolescent voice, it balances a fine line between being an adult and young adult novel; targeting both age groups it has to ensure it's not too childish for one or too mature for the other and while this doesn't always work in fiction, in this instance it does.

Izzy is horrified when her mother relocates them both from London to the countryside, far away from the bad influences that have recently dragged her down but also far away from anything Izzy has ever known, not in the least the boy she loves. Forced to change her mobile number and email address and without any transport links to escape the manor's suffocating atmosphere for a little while, Izzy feels like a prisoner in her new home and she makes sure her mother know how she feels about it.

So when Izzy starts complaining about implausible things happening inside of Stagcote Manor, or Heartbreak Hall as her new home is known to the peculiar locals, her mother thinks she is making it all up. Forced to investigate by herself, Izzy shares her concerns with another newcomer to the village and together they look into the history of the manor, soon uncovering more than Izzy had bargained for...

I'm usually not one for scary suspense novels because they have the tendency to creep me out, but the mystery at the heart of The Prophecy of Bees was incredibly intriguing and woven so seamlessly into the story of the moody, troubled teenager rebelling against her mother, that I couldn't help but be utterly and completely gripped and I ended up finishing it far too late at night. Reading an unnerving book just before bedtime was probably not the best idea but this novel was unputdownable, so once I started reading I couldn't not stop until I had turned the final page.

The ambiguous ending is similar to that of The Second Life of Amy Archer and will undoubtedly once again divide readers between the love and hate camps, but in my opinion the story couldn't have finished any other way. Hugely suspenseful and unexpected, the entire novel kept both Izzy and the reader on their toes and the conclusion had to be of similar impact, which it most certainly was. 

You can pre-order the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with him online at:

Website: rspateman.com

Twitter: @rspateman


Many thanks to the author for an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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