What’s it all about?:
When nineteen year old Davey finds himself drunk, beaten and alone, he is rescued by the oddly-assorted inhabitants of an abandoned and beautiful house in the West Country. Their only condition for letting him join them is that he asks them no questions.
More than thirty years ago in that same house, burned-out rock star Jack Laker writes a ground-breaking comeback album, and abandons the girl who saved his life to embark on a doomed and passionate romance with a young actress. His attempt to escape his destructive lifestyle leads to deceit, debauchery and even murder.
As Davey and his fellow housemate Priss try to uncover the secrets of the house’s inhabitants, both past and present, it becomes clear that the five strangers have all been drawn there by the events and the music of that long-ago summer.
What did I think?:
First of all I’d like to thank NetGalley and Legend Press for allowing me to read a copy of this intriguing debut novel. I have to admit I was initially drawn to this book by the simple yet absolutely beautiful and very effective cover art and a synopsis which sounded anything but dull. Unfortunately I appear to be in the minority group of readers that didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I was going to. It starts brilliantly enough, when a runaway called Davey is saved from the streets by Tom and Kate who along with sixteen year old Priss are living in a beautiful old house. At first, Davey assumes the same as the reader, that is that Tom and Kate are the owners of the house but it turns out that not only are they not a couple but they are all squatting in a house abandoned in mysterious circumstances.
As the story continues, we learn a lot more about the houses’ previous inhabitants, in particular those of thirty years ago where a rock star called Jack Laker, burnt out at the height of his fame is planning an almighty come-back. His back story sees him neglecting one girl who saves his life and falling head over heels in love with another girl called Matilda (who appears to have a few secrets of her own) and looking after a black panther who he keeps caged in the garden. Yes, I know. It’s a bit strange. However, Jack cannot maintain a rock star lifestyle without there being consequences and with the arrival of the mute and mysterious artist Isaac, emotions become heightened, dangerous and overwhelming with drastic results for those involved.
The story flips between the past (Jack’s story) and the story of the inhabitants at the present time. Even the house becomes a character in its own right – oh the things it must have witnesssed! They all have their own back story, some traumatic, some practically unbelievable. Not everyone is what they seem. And of course there is a link between the two stories which adds a nice little twist to the proceedings. I had already guessed it which was a bit of a shame as I like to be surprised (or proved wrong!) but I enjoyed the way the author pulled the two strands together. In general, I did like this book and as a debut it’s incredibly promising but for some reason I didn’t really connect with any of the characters so never felt fully invested in the story. There is some great writing here though and huge potential for the future so I look forward to reading more from Cassandra Parkin.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):