The Bookvent Calendar 2019: Day 22


#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2019

Every so often a book will come along that takes you by surprise and knocks you for six and my twenty-second boovent selection was definitely one such book. I knew the author was capable of very moving and beautiful writing, I had seen that in his other work. I don’t know quite what I was expecting when I started to read this book, but what I found was a tale which held my attention from the very first page and one that, as I started to review, became a very obvious red hot read winner. My twenty second #bookvent choice is:


In The Absence of Miracles
by Michael J Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books

How to even begin to describe this book … Having re-read my original review, I know I struggled to convey what the book was about then, and it’s not gotten any easier with time. There is an emotional depth to this story which takes readers by complete surprise. Not because it’s not expected – anyone who has read A Suitable Lie (and if not, why not?) will know how brilliantly Michael J Malone can convey emotion and really connect with his readers. But it was perhaps because this book felt very different from the start. It didn’t feel like one of those kinds of books. It was a story that intrigued me – John’s clearly fractious and complicated relationship with his mother something I could definitely relate to. But there were so many secrets, so many questions being raised that I really didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t this, not even close. Michael J Malone takes readers on a real journey, one which is, at times, really hard to read. That will touch even the hardest of hearts and likely render you speechless at times. There is a very deep emotional core to this story and it leaves its mark long after the last page is turned. The central protagonist, John, will challenge all readers and leave you with very mixed feelings about him depending on where you are in the story. He is complex in ways even he doesn’t understand at first. This is a book that, like A Suitable Lie, takes a very difficult but relevant subject and brings it front and centre in a way which is tragic but oh so beautifully written. A truly memorable piece of writing.

If you’d like to read my slightly more detailed and probably more coherent review of In The Absence of Miracles, you can find it here.


Happy #bookvent reading all