Author: Michael Barsa
Publisher: Underland Press
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman
Milo and Klara, son and daughter of the famous horror novelist John Crane, immediately become orphans after their parents’ car slides off a slippery winter road and crashes upside down in a ravine. Although they are both adults, they decide to stay in their family home. Klara, now the executor of the estate, is licking her wounds after a divorce and unsuccessful stint teaching at a reform school. Milo returns from college and settles into his own world of building model boats and other structures. Both just slide from day to day in their own little worlds until Klara decides to hire a gardener referred to her by one of the prominent ladies of their small town. Milo immediately suspects the gardener, Henri, of something… but he can’t put his finger on it. As he finally does, he reveals many haunting family secrets.
Klara is rather eccentric. Milo has something not right about him. As the book moves on, it becomes abundantly clear just what their issues are: their parents. Their mother is a raging alcoholic. Many of their father’s plots mimic real life, and in many cases, the real life of Milo and Klara. Milo realizes that Henri is living the life of one of his father’s most evil characters, Keith. Klara of course dismisses it as part of Milo’s unusual personality, but maybe Milo really is on to something.
A slow burn. The majority of the reviews I read about this book (after I read it, of course) described this story using that exact phrase. It fits perfectly. I was about halfway through the book and knew a lot at this point about Klara and Milo, but not much about what was happening. Then, out of nowhere, things began to happen. The majority of well-written story was a setup for what was about to happen next, and when it did, it shot off like a rocket. The next thing I knew, all kinds of things were happening and even more excitement was building as I was swept into Milo’s and Klara’s past, which was much more of a horror story than anything their father could have written.
I am all about action and moving along in a story, but every now and again a book so well-written and so engaging comes along that you want to savor each and every word. That was definitely the case for me with Garden of Blue Roses, and Michael Barsa earned his numerous five-star reviews with this one. The plot is engaging and the writing almost exotic. One can’t help but sit on the edge of one’s seat for not only the plotline but the language in this book. The ending did not fail to impress me, and it definitely was not what I was expecting. I heartily recommend this book!
True to gothic writing, the majority of the book doesn’t mention anything graphic, but rather relies on scenery to spook the reader. However, there are several sections that do give a horrific picture of child abuse and more. Faint-of-heart readers may not find this book to be as engaging or captivating as I did, but those who are into a good scare with a just a few grisly scenes will delight in it as much as I did.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.