The Wych Elm


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Feb 22, 2019

A good story but a little buried

When Toby moves back into his childhood house to look after his uncle a sinister family secret is unearthed. How much of Toby's past does he remember and are his memories truly reliable?

I must admit, unlike a lot of reviewers I have never read a book by Tana French before so I had no expectations of the book going in. I'll start with the positives, I really enjoyed the ending of the book - the last 15% or so was good enough to take my rating from two stars to three. The ending is such a change from the rest of the book - the pace ramps up nicely, there's twists and turns and curve balls thrown at the reader, all the of the strands of the narrative are nicely brought together and resolved - it's a great ending.

The rest of the book however, was a massive disappointment for me. In the nicest possible way a lot of the book is very, very dull. It is in drastic need of an edit as there is a great story under there it's just buried by a lot of filler. About 30%-70% (sorry, I'm a kindle reader - no page numbers!) of the book could have easily been condensed or cut completely and it would have been a hard hitting and interesting murder story. I would say it could easily be 250 pages shorter without any major plot elements or important parts taken out. We didn't need the endless details of the family Sunday lunches or the side-plot of Hugo's family tree project which had no relevance to the story. We didn't need the drawn out story of Toby's rehabilitation before the actual plot itself kicked in, the flip-flop of doubt between characters in the whodunnit was interesting but there was far too much of it - it just left me crying out to tell me who it was already so I could finish the book! I also found I didn't really care for any of the characters; even before Toby's accident he isn't a very likeable person, he also seems to have no idea what he's like as a person - even sitting in the pub at the very beginning of the book. The only person I really routed for was Melissa but I thought even she was under-used and was a missed potential by the end.

Overall, The Wych Elm has a good story in there somewhere but there is far too much padding to drag you down before you get to the good ending. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Books UK - Viking for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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