‘Fallow’ by Daniel Shand #fridayreads #BookReview @danshand @SandstonePress

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Daniel Shand’s debut novel ‘Fallow’.

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***Now only 99p!***

At the heart of this tense and at times times darkly comic novel is the relationship between two brothers bound by a terrible crime. Paul and Mikey are on the run, apparently from the press surrounding their house after Mikey’s release from prison. His crime child murder, committed when he was a boy. As they travel, they move from one disturbing scenario to the next, eventually involving themselves with a bizarre religious cult. The power between the brothers begins to shift, and we realise there is more to their history than Paul has allowed us to know.

Dark, disturbing but difficult to put down, Fallow tells the story of Paul and Mikey, two brothers who are on the run from someone or something.

We first meet them both camping out in woods. As the narrative unfolds, we follow them as they travel around Scotland, from one disturbing incident to another, working on an archaeology site, travelling with a tramp in a camper van, visiting the island of Arran with two American tourists and finally ending up staying on a campsite with a strange mix of activists and a religious cult.

Throughout their journey, we learn more about their past, and discover that Mikey has just been released from prison after being convicted of the murder of a child. Paul was with him that day, and the past is revealed from his point of view. In fact, everything that has happened in the past and everything that happens on their journey together is only shown from Paul’s perspective so we only see the truth when Paul allows us to; everything we know is distorted and manipulated by Paul, to fit his idea of the world. Paul’s influence on Mikey also raises questions about their relationship – is Paul really protecting Mikey from the press who are harassing him, or is there more to it?

With such dark subject matter, and with some very disturbing moments, it would have been easy for the author to rely on shocking the reader with graphic detail, but there is a good, strong story here and the things that happen have a horrible inevitability to them; that is the reality of what would happen if these two brothers were actually in the situations depicted.

Characterisation is excellent – Paul’s true nature is revealed slowly and carefully, and the reader feels manipulated too. The relationship between the brothers is skilfully drawn and believable and the little details added about the trials of their everyday existence add an authenticity to the narrative.

Clever and compelling, there are shades of Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory here, but Shand restrains himself somewhat, avoiding some of the more gratuitous detail of Banks’ novel. There is also more motivation here – unsettling as it is, there is a warped reasoning behind what happens.

A gripping read, and recommended.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy.

5 stars

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2 comments

  1. The description intrigued me, your review hooked me. What a strange, intriguing concept. For a debut author to kick off his career with a concept so original and receive such positive feedback is impressive. Thank you for your take, Alison!

    Liked by 1 person

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