*Just a small notice, there might be some small spoilers you may want to avoid before reading*
I’ve seen this book everywhere on social media and everyone has been loving it and it got me intrigued. So I kindly asked for a proof as I just couldn’t wait and I was so excited when it came in the post! So, first of all, what’s it all about? Here’s the blurb:
One night changes everything for Toby. He’s always led a charmed life – until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.
But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.
As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.
A spellbinding standalone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, if we no longer know who we are.
Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it? I’ve never read a book from Tana French before so wasn’t too sure what to expect but I’ve been so engrossed in this book over the last week or two. It’s captivating, brilliant and I’m still thinking about it. It’s the type of book that is unputdownable and will make you have goosebumps all over.
I’ve never read Tana French’s writing but right from the start, I was hooked. The way she brings sentences together, how she describes nature is gothic, dark and dramatic but has this light soft flair to it at the same time. The plot is great and full of twists and turns with layer after layer that just gets deeper and deeper. But, my favourite thing about French’s writing is the way she wrote her characters – especially their dialogue with another. I don’t think I’ve read a book with such real characters. They are so drawn out and established, they are bouncing off the page. Sometimes, I felt as if I was in the kitchen with the family around the table – it’s that strong. The dialogue is also brilliant, too. The dialogue between characters (especially with scenes with Leon, Susanna and Toby) are brilliantly written and shows the true extent of their relationship. Her writing is so bloody brilliant I kept reading passages because it was that good.
As I’ve said, the characters are my favourite part of this book. Especially Toby. I loved reading Toby – I found him completely fascinating. A bit like Maurice in A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne. This also helped with the first-person narrative with Toby as we were seeing everything and everyone in his point of view. Leon was another favourite character of mine. Leon, for me, was one of the characters that instantly bounced off the page. I also really loved reading the relationship between Leon, Susanna and Toby. They have grown up together, so there is a natural rapport between them all and their relationship gets tested throughout the novel. Hugo was another favourite character of mine; he reminded of my granddad and I loved his relationship with Toby.
‘For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous.’
The plot was also brilliant. It starts off a bit slow but that didn’t bother me. I feel that it was a great set-up and helped having a better understanding of Toby as a character. It all kicks off when a skull is found in the garden that was in the wych elm tree in the garden… trust me, this is a book that will make you sit up straight and keep turning the page. There are a lot of themes at play in this book too. From privilege, luck, identity, grief, love, family, growing up, and who we really are. The book is also very visual and I think it will be a great BBC One drama over the Christmas period.
I think this is going to be a big book of 2019 and it deserves all of the praise! This book is twisty, dark, gothic, exciting and hard to put down. This is one that you will not forget in a hurry.
A big thank you to Penguin for my copy! The Wych Elm is out on 21st February and trust me, you will want to read this…
Are you a fan of Tana French’s books? What shall I read next? Have you read The Wych Elm? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!