Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan #BookReview #MysteryThriller #LiteraryFcition #SixteenHorses #NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many thanks to Net Galley, Pan Macmillan, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.

Simultaneously captivating but at the same time, deeply disturbing, Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan gives a new meaning to the word ‘UNNERVING’.

WARNING TO READERS WHO CANNOT ABIDE ANIMAL ABUSE, the scenes are not cruelly graphic but imagination can sometimes be our worst enemy.

“Seagulls swooped from roof to roof. Middle-aged couples sat on benches, mostly silent. The air smelt of dust, salt, skin, tobacco.”

ILMARSH is a long-forgotten pleasure town, a place left to its own decay, devoid of anything new or exciting, a ghost town where every single thing is just waiting to fade into oblivion. But evil lurks in even the remotest corners of the earth as the heads of sixteen horses are discovered in WELL FARM by a farmer and his daughter. Thus starts the deciphering of the myriad strange things that are happening in the town by the lead detective sergeant Alec Nichols and forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen.

The writing technique used by the author is unique. There’s no gradual unfolding of the events in the story, it is more or less like watching a film with one scene cutting to the next with no rhyme or reason. In here, it works in obscuring the story and literally muddles the already muddy water. However, it may seem problematic for those readers who take frequent breaks in between their reading, in which case this jumping from one scene to the next, sometimes, leaving no clues to the narrator of the POV we are reading, may break the flow in the story and make it feel disjointed. That also could be the primary reason why the story and its characters never leave a mark but the town definitely does. Neither Cooper nor Alec induces any warm feeling and made it difficult to connect to them as a reader.

“People thought fiction was the problem-that films, television, games, comics would all desensitize the world to violence and horror. Real things were far harder to care about.”

The claustrophobic foreboding that has been created by the author was simply brilliant. The sounds, the description of the town and its people, the atmospheric thrill give a gothic vibe that was mind-blowing. But there were parts of the story, like in the middle, that lost its grip on me. It doesn’t matter thou, honestly, even the unveiling of the mystery didn’t seem important whilst reading, coz the author mesmerizes you with his story-telling. The whole uneasy unsettling dark aura that Greg Buchanan creates in his debut is worth a read and for that alone, I am going with 3.5 stars.

Sixteen horses dead. Each buried with a single eye facing the sun . . .

In the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, the heads of sixteen horses are found buried in circles, with only their eyes exposed to the light of the low winter sun. The local police call upon forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen to assist with this uniquely disturbing case.

In the weeks that follow, investigators uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in this community: disappearances, arson, and mutilations, all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself. And as the town panics, not everything in Ilmarsh is as it seems. . . Dark days follow, then Cooper finds herself working with local police detective Alec Nichols to uncover a frightening mystery.

A literary thriller from a stunning new talent, Sixteen Horses is about enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind.



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