Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘A Prison in the Sun’ by Isabel Blackthorn, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours. I was delighted to participate in this tour, and I hope that you will check out both the author and the book.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.
Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?
Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.
‘A Prison in the Sun’ was an interesting blend of fiction and history, mystery and historical fiction. With a main character that was trying to discover themselves while dealing with the past, and a mystery. This combination had the potential to lose steam, but the balance between the different aspects was handled beautifully, and it made for an interesting and compulsive read.
I felt that the author’s strengths shone through best during the historical sections, and those are the parts of the novel that truly stood out to me. This is a little-known part of history, certainly one that was unknown to me and I have very fond memories of visiting Fuerteventura on a family holiday a few years ago, and it was fascinating and heartbreaking to read about, and the author tackled this difficult topic in a way that was beautifully written but did nothing to hide the horrors or soften them. The descriptions and sensitivity of this approach, making hit home a lot harder than it would have with a much blunter approach and has left me with a desire to explore on this topic.
The mystery aspect of the book, was a little weaker in my opinion, although still interesting to read about. What starts as interesting mystery in and of itself – the discovering of the rucksack filled with cash, followed by a dead body washing up on the beach – is derailed a little by the protagonist. Trevor, who is already questioning many things, including his own sexuality in the wake of a divorce, and the discovery of the tragic history of the island begins to question everything. He is not the most reliable narrator, and his way of making assumptions – many unfounded – mean that the mystery becomes warped by the real, physical mystery and the one that he concocts in his whole mind.
Trevor was a compelling if conflicting protagonist. There are times when I lost track of his train of thought, and where his questioning of everything became a little too much. Yet at the same time, you can see how he came to be like this, and why he acts in the way that he does. Because we spend so much time with him, even if you have not read the previous books in the series, he is well developed, and you can understand what makes him tick. Although I would like to read the others, just to see if it does cast a little more light on his decision-making process, which did seem a little strange at times, especially with his personality. Still, I look forward to reading more about him.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this book, and it was an interesting read. The ending was probably the weakest part of the book, as it didn’t seem to quite mesh with the rest the book and was a little frustrating in that it didn’t tie up the threads. Hopefully, there will be future books that help tie up those loose ends. However, the historical parts of the book, and the writing more than made up for that, and I would recommend this book, especially to anyone wanting to read about this part of history.
About the Author:
Award-winning author, Isobel Blackthorn, is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including gripping mysteries and dark psychological thrillers. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019.
Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism from the University of Western Sydney for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel The Unlikely Occultist and the full biography Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy.
Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Four of her novels are set on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These standalone novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction.
Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including asylum seekers and family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives in Queensland, Australia.
Prison in the Sun – Isabel Blackthorn (Published in paperback, audio and digital formats by Next Chapter Publishing on 19th November 2019) – *** (3/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book. Or if you have any recommendations for similar books, please shoot them my way.
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