Saturday, July 28, 2012
The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon
Publisher: Solaris (2011)
paperback edition 2011
The Concrete Grove starts off by kicking you in the teeth and then dragging you along for a ride through the gloomy lower class society of Concrete Grove where strange things are afoot. Drugs are sold openly on street corners, a loan shark takes repayments in cash, in kind and in soul, and a fourteen years old girl has discovered a doorway to another place between realities and the 'power' of that place liked what it saw.
Gary has given us a council estate that most of us know well or have seen and he paints it dark, gloomy and inserts supernatural horror of ageless otherworldly entities into the mix.
We have 4 main characters. A solo mum doing her best for her daughter, said daughter is having fainting spells and weird dreams, Tom is an average guy not from the Grove but after helping the daughter (Hailey), he discovers an interest in Lana (Mum). Monty Bright is a loan shark who lent Laura some cash, and now she can't make the repayments and he is sending the 'boys' over to have a chat with her. But Monty is hiding a secret. He has been searching for a special place in the Grove, a place so well hidden it is impossible to find, but he is not giving up and has a feeling Hailey has a special bond with The Grove.
Sound complex? It's not really, McMahon keeps the reader on track and page turning with characters whom act (almost) like a real person would act (there were a few places where I made a face) and the story lines come together creating a climax that explodes from the page in rip-roaring speed.
What's bad: Not much. I feel too much time was spent on Tom and his wife.
What's good: The characters are fleshed out. They are people you may know or have noticed on the street from time to time.The drama and interactions between the characters and the story playing out before them is all engrossing.
Over all, this is an excellent first book in a trilogy, there are a few unanswered questions that may be answered in the coming books. I have Book Two sitting on my desk, Silent Voices, just waiting for my eyes to devour.
4 out of 5 stars