Imagine you came across an abandoned-looking house in the woods whilst on holiday. Would you go and look? Here’s my review of ‘The Place That Never Existed’ by Jim Ody.
What’s it about?
Paul and Debbie are honeymooning in Devon when they happen upon an abandoned house in the woods, near to their holiday cabin. Curiosity gets the better of them and they decide to try the door and, finding it unlocked, they enter to have a closer look. The house looks as though the occupants left in a hurry and hasn’t been inhabited in a while, but why is there a camera light blinking in the corner and who is in the sinister looking black van that is approaching?
Hiding in the garden for fear of being caught trespassing, what Paul and Debbie see and hear next both frightens and confuses them further. What is going on in this house? Who are the men in the van? What’s the story with the other slightly odd villagers of Huntswood Cove that they meet during their stay and why is Paul’s psycho ex girlfriend following him to Devon, chased by Debbie’s brother and a curious Irish woman? And who on earth is Benji, the enigmatic mute boy who wanders the village?
This tale of the mysterious goings-on at the old Dudley house in the woods, young people going missing and ending up dead and a sleepy coastal fishing village shrouded in secrecy will keep you guessing right up until the surprising end!
What did I think of it?
I really enjoyed the majority of the novel, which is written with humour and flows well. However, I found the ending a little too unusual. The author is fully aware that it’s something of a ‘marmite’ ending and asks that readers keep an open mind in order to fully enjoy it.
The story engaged me from the start – who doesn’t love a creepy, deserted house, which, inevitably, will be the centre of all kinds of strange goings-on? The central characters, Paul and Debbie are likeable, but we know from the start that they are about to become embroiled in something that won’t end well. There are many other characters (too many?) who range from the slightly odd (Kim, Woody) through the more unhinged (Robin) to the downright off-their-rocker (Christina). I sometimes struggled to understand the relevance of some characters to the storyline and felt they either should be explored further or left out completely.
Ody has a great writing style, (as well as an impressive knowledge of 90s ‘Girl Power’) and even though the story jumps forwards and backwards in time in places, it’s not hard to keep track. Suspense is built right from the start and there is a real ‘Hot Fuzz’ feel about the village which includes a megalomaniac Mayor, a womanising councillor and police that cannot be trusted. The story moves along nicely, keeping the reader guessing as to what’s going on until right near the end when Ody throws a complete curve ball and the story takes an unexpected twist! I won’t reveal details, but I’m not sure I liked how it ended; it seems to pose more questions than it answers!
However, despite the end not being to my personal taste, I really enjoyed the book and Ody’s style and look forward to reading more from him in the future!
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.
He 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.
‘The Place That Never Existed’ is available from Amazon in paperback form for £8.99, or the Kindle version is priced at £1.99 (prices correct 10th March 2017).
Disclosure: I received a complimentary digital copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.