‘No longer the benign friend of summer, the Severn was a restless dragon slithering its way past’
After a beloved family member is drowned in a devastating flood, Bede and Elin Sherwell want nothing more than to be left in peace to pursue their off-grid life. But when the very real prospect of fracking hits their village, they are drawn into the front life of the protests. During a spring of relentless rain, a series of mysterious threats and suspicious accidents put friendships on the line, and the Sherwells’ marriage under unbearable tension.
Is there a connection with their uncle’s death?
As the river rises in torrential rain, pressure mounts, Bede’s sense of self begins to crumble, and Elin is no longer sure who to believe or what to believe in.
Environmental drama meets psychological thriller amidst small-town secrets and lies in Alison Layland’s latest novel, Riverflow.
Set in a vividly drawn rural village on the Welsh border, Riverflow tells the story of Elin and Bede, an environmentally-conscious couple who just want to pursue their off-grid lifestyle and be part of the community around them. But when the threat of fracking from a local landowner becomes all too real, community relations take a sinister turn. Vandalism and arson lead to rising suspicion and, as Bede and Elin get drawn into the fray, they are both led to question what the other might have to hide.
Alison Layland’s precise way with words perfectly lends itself to this taut and knotty psychological drama, compelling the reader to turn the pages whilst deftly combining its themes of family secrets, village mystery, marital crisis, and environmental drama.
The village community and the surrounding scenery is beautifully drawn, with some lovely descriptive passages that really allowed me to get a sense of the place, and the people who live within it. As the tension gradually ratchets up, Layland brings together the various strands of her narrative in an accomplished and controlled way, never allowing the low-level sense of unease to go away.
My only criticism – and it is a very minor one – is that I felt the book was a tad sluggish in places. Whilst the tension is always palpable and, as I’ve said, the plot is very carefully controlled, there were some moments that felt a little repetitive and I imagine that readers who like their psychological thrillers to race from start to finish might find the pacing a tad slow in parts – to borrow from TV, this is more of a Broadchurch than a Bodyguard you might say.
This does, however, allow both time and space for that elegant and fluid writing I mentioned, as well as that slow-build of tense unease that pervades the pages. So, for those who are prepared for the occasional stroll amidst the action, Riverflow is a novel that offers a compelling narrative, dealing with contemporary concerns whilst adding that dash of psychological drama.
Riverflow by Alison Layland is published by Honno Press and is available now all good booksellers and online retailers, including the publisher’s website, Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon. My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review.
The blog tour continues until 10 August so do check out the other posts for further reviews, content, and more! Thanks to Emma from Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for organising the tour and inviting me to take part.