Part Secret History, part Brideshead Revisited for the 21st century, The Bellwether Revivals is a page-turning, romantic, eerie tale of genius and, possibly, madness; a stunning debut for fans of Sarah Waters, Donna Tartt, and Lauren Goff.
The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris's charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal -- and perhaps more -- through the power of music.
In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden's powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden's parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else. (from Goodreads)
I am quite simply amazed that this is a debut book for Mr. Wood. I was immediately pulled into the story. As the synopsis tells us, the story opens with dead bodies and of course, at this point, we don’t know who is who and how we even got to this point. The tale of Oliver, his happenstance meeting with Iris and the ensuing saga of his relationship with her, her brother Eden and their small group of friends is really quite captivating. What’s up with Eden - this rather snooty, self centered, upper crust snobbish, pretentious, nut job? Oh - by the way, I did not care for Eden. Is he crazy as a loon or does he really have some mystical power to heal through music?
I really enjoyed this book - no real lags or downtime. It held my interest and there was no forcing myself to finish. Not so much a fast paced thriller as an even paced story where the tension builds because we know something is definitely amiss. I certainly am interested in seeing more books from this very talented author.
Thank you to Penguin Group (USA) and Netgalley for allowing me to read this for an unbiased review. (Lucky me)
Publish date: June 28, 2012
My rating: 5 of 5