Book Review – Refuge

Refuge by A V Mathers

The cover of Refuge didn’t bode well for me.

A crow, dark sinister foreboding doors, and a fox and everything dark, dark, dark.   Refuge is a young-adult novel, and it’s fantasy fiction, neither of which is my usual genre or cup of tea.  I guess it was never going to be my favourite read.  That and the fact that the books go straight into a prologue set in a mental hospital in 1735 England.  You can imagine the rest.  It’s confronting stuff to open a young adult novel with, especially if any of them have been through or are going experiencing mental health issues.

Refuge is filled with the world of Brisbane school girl Nell McLennan.  Nell is a little lost in life and her parents have palmed her off while they ‘find themselves’ in Vanuatu. Palmed off onto her Townsville, grandfather who she barely knows, Nell is glad to escape his isolated property for the contact of children her own age.  Instead, Nell falls into the alternate universe of Refuge when her twelve-year-old self, opens a basement door in search of her school holiday drama workshop.  I don’t have to tell you that’s not what she finds, after all, it would be a very different book then wouldn’t it! The shock is immediate. It’s night, there’s something chasing her and she has no idea in hell where she is.  Nell is immediately taken under the wing of Fox and Janus.  These two feature heavily throughout the book.

Mental health and its challenges are something I’m passionate about and have faced, and maybe because of, that I found the book a bit full on.  I’m not sure why I kept reading.  Well, yes I do know.  Refuge is really well-written book that gets in your head.  You feel yourself fall down the rabbit hole with protagonist Nell McLennan and hiking into ‘the Split’ to get away from the not so good Doctor, 18th-century Psychiatrist Dr Nathaniel.  Thank goodness they don’t make them like him anymore. And it’s not long before you’re wishing you could smash Gideon yourself, he was never going to be my favourite character.

Now obviously I can’t give the story away but I can give you this, Refuge is full of suspense.  You read and read, faster and faster.  Please let Nell escape.  You promise for her that she’ll never misbehave again if her allies can just get her home. Right from the time, Nell walks through the door to this new land you’re kept guessing about how or if she will ever get out.  You can picture the jagged scar on Gideon’s face and Fox’s animal legs as he runs.  You feel the cold wind howl around your ears and you hate those twins so much you want to yell  ‘Nell snap out of it, they’re out to get you!’

This is a speed reed book, you just want to read and read till you get to the ending.  I didn’t like the dark, fantasy nature of the book, but I just couldn’t put it down, but I will be giving it away!

I don’t want that evilness in the house!

I’m off now to read a 40 something genre psychological thriller Scrublands, to clear my head of Refuge.  That’s how good Refuge is. 

You just can’t get it out of your head. And you can buy Refuge here on Amazon and read more about the self-publishing author A V Mather here.