Monday, 13 March 2017

The Place That Never Existed by Jim Ody

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For Paul and Debbie it was meant to be the happiest time of their lives – a small village wedding in front of their family and friends, followed by a quiet honeymoon in Devon. Not everyone was happy to see them together. Someone from the past was intent on ending their marriage before it had really started. Now, supposedly away from it all in a picturesque log cabin, Paul and Debbie find themselves in the midst of mysterious happenings. Unexplained disappearances with people turning up dead, and all of it centred on the site of an horrific murder. A place the locals wish was a place that never existed.

When you pick up this book, make sure you have settled somewhere with all the lights on, a supply of tea (or something stronger if you are of a nervous disposition) and enough biscuits to get through at least the first chapter - after that your stomach will be too tense to eat, even with the mouth watering descriptions of delicious meals and snacks Paul and Debbie keep trying to distract themselves with rather than accepting what strangeness surrounds them. Because reading this book is like watching "The Blair Witch Project" crossed with "The Hand that Rocked the Cradle"; it has the feel of a cinema blockbuster. Ody has combined all the perfect elements of a story that makes you too scared to turn the light off at night and too scared to ever stop at a service station again.

The opening chapter really had me interested. Paul and Debbie, out walking in the forest stumble across a derelict house.

The aura of a forgotten house that was sat in such beautiful forest surroundings should be idyllic, but somehow there was an unspoken sinister presence that instantly put you on edge. A spine tingling feeling aroused by one too many horror movies of deserted houses in the woods just like this. 

I can't resist an empty house, an isolated location, no phone signal and a loved up couple. Ody gave me the magic ingredients for a story and I couldn't help but let out a bit of an "ooohhhhh" in anticipation- in my inner voice obviously otherwise it would have just been embarrassing.... *blushes*

I liked that Ody acknowledged the comfortable, well worn path he was treading with his protagonists being a couple, in the middle of nowhere, entering a house and then all the subsequent suspicions and events that came from this decision to cross the threshold when they shouldn't have. I liked that he often reminded us of well known scary horror films and other contemporary crime writing authors as I found it quite playful and it probably helps the reader to buy in to a few situations when the reader might challenge the character's actions. Like when someone decides to enter an empty, dark house and then walk all the way down into the dark dark cellar with no protection and without anyone knowing they are there!

Ody has a very wry voice at times and his humour filters through the pages. I particularly liked Paul's reflection at the beginning of the story about the fact they were honeymooning on a tight budget in the back of beyond - not what they had ever imagined for their special holiday. And especially not with all the strange goings on that they had managed to get mixed up in.

A five star hotel in the Maldives wouldn't have offered them such adventure. Just the boredom of warm white sands, a cyan coloured sea lapping at their feet with cocktails, in their own paradise, Speedos and bikinis, sunburn and coconut lotion, relaxing and reading the day away. Awful. 

Ody also has some fun by changing writing style a few times to incorporate lists. For example when we meet two new characters who are about to break up, Ody takes us through a bullet point presentation of the emotions a woman will be through after a break up. I have never come across the term 'post relationship funeral' but it is a great explanation! I also enjoyed his description of Chrissy and how he was able to convey so much about her through one or two comments:

He had looked nervous and she had looked at her bare finger and hoped that it would soon have a ring on it. 

But ultimately, smiles aside and despite Paul and Debbie's generally positive attitudes and sunny personalities, this is a dark tale of obsession, revenge, secrets and relationships. Ody is always able to deliver these moments of shock effectively with lots of dramatic impact:

he thought it best not to let her know about the text message. And of course, neither of them knew about the small black tract box underneath the Jeep.....

There are plenty of sentences that get under your skin, that unsettle you and his straight talking lines of prose can be very evocative.

Could a place actually be evil? Even without the person being there, a dark residual aura hanging over the place and polluting the air?

So are you settled in that chair? Well hurry up because Paul and Debbie haven't got long. You don't want them disappearing like the people in the novel! I would recommend this novel. It's very readable, very accessible and a good mixture of crime, horror and psychological drama. Enjoy!

My thanks to Emma (@emmamitchellfpr) for letting me on the Blog Tour and for the advanced copy to read and review. Don't forget to look out for the stops over the next few days. there are lots of reviews but also guest posts and author interviews which will be well work reading.

JIM ODY

Jim Ody


As a child Jim wanted to be a truck driver - more specifically Kris Kristofferson in the movie 'Convoy', however somehow this never happened, nor did he ever smuggle moonshine in Hazzard County, find treasure with his buddies in the Goondocks, or hunt sharks on Amity Island. He did win ‘The Spirit Of Judo’ award as a seven-year-old, and have published his design of a ‘Dog-Walking Machine’ in an English text book at the age of ten; so every cloud and all of that…

Jim has had poems and articles published on a number of websites, and for eight years, was a weekly music reviewer for a popular music website where he got to meet bands and see free gigs.

Jim has published two books 'Lost Connections' and 'The Place That Never Existed', and had his short story, 'The Moth In The Jar' selected and published in the charity anthology 'Dark Minds'.

Jim lives with his wife and three children in Swindon, Wiltshire, and is currently writing his next novel 'A Cold Retreat' (due out in summer 2017); and more than likely eating chocolate. And watching football.

@Jim_Ody_Author

For more recommendations and reviews you can follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

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