Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew

Cue me yapping about this book to everyone I know. What an amazing book. IMPOSSIBLE causes is like a cross between The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Wickerman, and it is so, so good. The premise is absolutely brilliant. Lark is an island off the coast of England, claustrophobic, steeped in Celtic superstition, and entirely wreathed in fog seven months out of the year. There are no cell phone towers there, no technology, and Lark has stagnated in its own archaic splendor, unchecked, for years.

Viola and her anxious mother have come to Lark to escape the triggers of the modern world and the death of Viola's father. Ben Hailley, the attractive new young teacher, has come to Lark for, well, a lark. And maybe also to escape-- who knows? The entire town is consumed with the excitement of these new arrivals, especially a pretty young teacher, who has eyes for Ben, and three girls, called the Eldest Girls, a lot like the Weird Sisters from Sabrina, and just as attractive and mystifying, who end up welcoming Viola into their occultist flock with open arms.

Things start to go sour when rumors start flying about devil worship and illicit, sensational acts. The visitors to the island end up serving as unknowing catalysts to a Pandora's box of repression, folkloric superstition, misogyny, rape culture, and female rage. What follows is 400+ pages of breath-taking horror, mired in the abuse of religion for self-gain and many, many years of unchecked misogyny. It left my head spinning, I was so impressed by the beautiful writing and the plotting. IMPOSSIBLE CAUSES is so well done, and the spare prose really adds a wonderfully minimalist element to the story-telling, leaving you no choice but to focus on the characters.

Anyone who likes mysteries set in small towns will really enjoy IMPOSSIBLE CAUSES. I'm blown away that more of the preliminary readers weren't 100% into this, because I absolutely devoured this book and am going to recommend it to everyone I know. It reminds me a lot of this other book I read and loved, also set in a small island town in the UK, and also filled with superstitious paranoia and xenophobia, and that book was LUCAS by Kevin Brooks if you're into that concept. I totally am, and I am marking this book as a "keeper," to be re-read at will, preferably on a dark and stormy night.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

5 out of 5 stars

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