The Glade is basically a supernatural suspense story. It’s different, intriguing and totally unpredictable.
Like many indie works this book crosses genres. The supernatural element puts it in the fantasy category, but apart from The Presence that Helen and Geoff, her husband, feel in their little glade in the Forest of Dean and the dead people who get up and walk, it all happens in the fairly ordinary world of a small country village. It’s this low key approach that makes the story all the more chilling because we can’t immediately dismiss it as a fantasy world. This real world basis means that the book also fits into the mystery and suspense categories. There isn’t so much fantasy that it would turn off those who aren’t generally fantasy readers, and there’s plenty of mystery and suspense for fans of those genres. Kent’s characters and the world she creates around them are very real, but beneath this ordinary exterior lies a dark underbelly.
Helen has cancer and she and her husband retire to the Forest of Dean to live out her remaining days. Things do not go as they expect, however, and the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride to find out the truth behind the strange events, and then to work out how to destroy the menace that has haunted the village for generations.
The story is extremely well done in terms of plot and pacing. I never knew what would happen next, was often surprised and always keen to keep reading. The characterisation was excellent. I got to know Helen quickly and soon became concerned for her. Though Geoff was a bit of a mystery, it worked for the story because Helen also discovers that she never really knew her husband. Mike and John were well-rendered and were both lovely characters, and Sheila also came across loud and clear.
I was particularly impressed by how Kent handled the backstory. We moved seamlessly from past to present until they coincided, and the backstory never felt like backstory. Beginning the story, as she did, part way through, created an added layer of mystery as we wonder now Helen got to the point where she took her husband’s life. Another thing the author did well was to feed the information out at the right pace, just enough crumbs to keep you reading, but never too much at once, and she left the real revelations until right at the end, exactly as a good mystery should be.
Endings can make or break a novel, and in this case, the end was its crowning glory and made it much more than just an ordinary suspense story. I was concerned about it for some time as the end grew near, wondering it if would leave me miserable – it could easily have gone either way. Of course, I’m not going to tell you whether it did or not, but I will say that I thought the end was magnificent.
Some of the phrasing I found strange, but I think that’s because it’s local lingo – the author is English.
I like the cover too; it does a good job of expressing the feel of the book. I recommend it for those who enjoy a good supernatural suspense story.
It’s really worth a read.