Broken Branches by M Jonathan Lee

When his brother Stuart dies, Ian Perkins returns to his childhood home with his wife Rachel and their small son Harry.  Cobweb Cottage has been in the Perkins’ family for many generations and it has now been passed on to Ian.

Along with its curse.

broken branches cover

Just outside the isolated cottage – which is more than four miles from its nearest neighbour – a huge Sycamore tree resides, watching over the cottage and its occupants with a sense of menace.

The tree had frightened Ian ever since he was a young child…It had brought so much suffering, so much misery, on the family.”

In their childhood days, during long, hot summers, Ian and Stuart would swing from a rope tied to one of its branches. Now, well over a hundred years old, the tree seems possessed of a power which is beyond the natural.

In all seasons, it remained withered and bare, stretching accusingly at the cottage like an arthritic finger.”

As his marriage collapses around him, Ian spends time researching his family history trying to convince Rachel of the family curse. Despite a pact, made on their first wedding anniversary, that they would always talk and work out any problems, the barriers have gone up.

Rachel mooches about the house, unwell, and sleeps in the box room – which she keeps locked. For her, each day “was a day much like yesterday and the same as tomorrow”. Meanwhile Ian’s mental state becomes ever more fragile.

As the plot unfolds, elements of the supernatural appear, leaving the reader to question whether a curse does truly exist or whether it is all in the mind of Ian Perkins.

Broken Branches is a tale of family tragedy resulting in immense pain and suffering and Ian’s mental decline is very realistically expressed. His character elicits a great deal of empathy as he struggles to understand the curse that he believes has blighted his family for generations.

Jonathan Lee has written a very thought provoking story building up to an unpredictable finale. He has used the old, broken branches of the Sycamore tree as an excellent metaphorical representation of the breakdown of the family over generations which invites the reader to consider the story at a deeper level.

An enjoyable read.

Thank you to Hideaway Fall for the review copy – the book is released on 27th July 2017

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @MJonathanLee