I’ve had this book since I was 15. That’s seven years of having it and, not reading it. I can’t really justify why I never read it, there was just something that seemed more exciting available on my book shelf. So, after a seven year waiting period I finally picked it up. I was originally worried that being 22 would impact how I read this book which lends itself to the ‘young adult/teen thriller’ genre, but I was pleasantly surprised.
To me, there are a lot of things that are right with this book, but there are also quite a few bits that are wrong as well.
The premise of this book is about two young half-gypsy brothers, both with sort of non-human talents, who discover their sister has been left naked, raped and strangled in a grey village in Dartmoor. Whilst Cole, the eldest of the two brothers has a way with his fists and can blank out his humanity to get answers Ruben has almost telepathic gifts. He can sense others feelings, he feels his sister’s death by whom he describes as The Dead Man and seems to understand why someone has done something before they do. They find themselves fighting to have their sister’s body returned to them so she can be laid to rest. What follows is these two young lads fighting to track down the culprit of the crime. When they finally get to the village they are met with hostility and defiance and discover that Rachel, their sister was murdered in a more complication and dangerous way then what they first thought. This book leads up to a pretty explosive finale, where all is finally revealed.
Trying to put the plot down on paper without giving too much away was a lot harder then I imagined. This book is full of twists and turns that leave the reader wanting more. Brooks’ creation and development of characters is almost perfect. Whilst I found myself feeling for the two title characters I did wish that sometimes Brooks’ would give just a little more to them. It’s difficult to justify this feeling with words but knowing their father was in jail for murder, which is brought up a few times in the novel, meant I had more questions about the characters that weren’t answered. Part of me wonders if because it’s a 22-year-old me reading the book, and not a 15-year-old me.
The book really is about vigilante justice, mainly coming from the eldest brother Cole Ford. Although I could sense some realism from the book I really felt that there was lack of credibility when it came to the consequences of vigilante actions. Some of the events that occur in the book I really felt would justify jail time as opposed to a quick beating, but artistic license is a wonderful thing. I also found it pretty ridiculously that a 17-year-old and 14-year-old could make such an impact on a village full of adults, but then again for a younger reader this probably wouldn’t sound totally bizarre.
This book is dark and can at some points make for uncomfortable reading, I’m not sure I would’ve coped that well with this book if I had been under the age of 15 when I read it, but I guess it really does depend on the maturity level of the person reading it. It’s a very enjoyable book though, if like me you can get over your problems of believability. Brooks’ has a way with words that can immediately transform a scene and cause a visual to pop straight into your head. He can define a place and describe it into a reality. As a reader I felt part of the fabric of the story and this is what gave this book to me it’s overwhelming and deeply emotional premise a base to stand on.
Although slightly chaotic as the book reaches its final with more of my credibility issues coming through Brooks’ does try to balance out the chaos with some interesting and realistic descriptions of occurrences. Graphic though it may be, I did begin to find myself swept away in it all and even though rational me knows that what is occurring in the books is so unlikely I couldn’t help but enjoy it.
One thing I didn’t enjoy however, was the ending. Now this maybe completely personal because for me I struggle with a lot of stories endings, to me there are never good enough. But this one was pretty dismal. It just kind of ended. Like a happily ever after ending and to me it didn’t fit with the book. Brooks’ had got himself in one place and was doing mighty well with it, then you turn the page and it was almost like you were reading a different book altogether. There was no way in mind that this book should have ended as it did, but I guess at the end of the day 15-year-old me would have accepted it and thought it was justifiably happy for all the crap the brothers had already been through.
Maybe that is the difference between me then and now though.
I would highly recommend this book though even with the disappointing ending, the rest of the book is well worth the read. I struggled though trying to think of a suitable age I would put this book out to. I saw on some website some kids as young as 11 reading it, and there is no way I would tell my niece whose about that age to read it. For me the concept of rape and strangulation along with some of the other gritty events that occur in this book would probably minimum say 14-years-old. But then again, today kids seems to be desensitised from such a young age maybe they wouldn’t find it as horrifying as I know I would have done aged 11.