A Prayer For The Broken by Mark Tilbury

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for A Prayer For The Broken by Mark Tilbury, his latest dark and deadly thriller. My thanks to the author for inviting me to take part and for providing an advance copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

About the Book

They promised him he’d be safe – they lied!

When eleven-year-old John McCormack’s mother is murdered, he is placed in the care of Pastor Ian Stone and his family. Clearwater House is a far cry from the squalid flats he’s been used to, but John soon learns that Pastor Stone’s perverted form of religion is anything but compassionate.

As Stone attempts to purify John’s soul of “dangerous levels of toxicity”, it becomes increasingly clear that he’s at the mercy of a madman.

Who can John tell when no one wants to listen?

Who can he trust when all he knows is betrayal?

A Prayer for the Broken is a story of loss, pain, and one child’s fight to escape a sadistic killer who has complete control of him.

My Thoughts

You don’t pick up a Mark Tilbury book because you are looking for a warm and fuzzy read and I think that this is especially true of his latest offering, A Prayer for the Broken. This time around we are seeing the world through the eyes of John McCormack although the tale is, in part, told with the voice of an adult John, looking back at the very dark and troubled times he lived through as a child when, following the murder of his mother, he is sent to live at Clearwater House with Pastor Ian Stone, his wife and son, and their other adopted child, Brendan. But this is no safe haven for poor young John, and Stone is a man who takes religious devotion to a whole new , truly sadistic, level.

If you have read any of the author’s other books, you will know that he is not one to spare the pain of his characters. Now the very worst of the violence in this book stays off the page, but the inference is clear and the scenes are graphic enough to ensure that you will be left grimacing and with an intense hatred for the perpetrators. It is not always about graphic violence against the children though, sometimes the very act of denying food or proper bedding can be as cruel and spirit breaking as actual physical abuse. The whole atmosphere that surrounds the house is oppressive, as though a benevolent spirit has taken hold, and the more we learn of the character’s past, the more you realise this may not be far from the truth. Violence begets violence – nurture, or lack thereof in this instance, over nature – but it certainly doesn’t excuse what is happening. It is important to note that the book is set a few years back though, so that lack of care or attention by social services does, all too sadly, ring true.

It’s not all doom and gloom though and there are some lighter moments when, if only for the briefest time, the boys John and Brendan, make a bid for freedom. Their plan to escape is ultimately flawed, it really doesn’t get them very far, but their time alone allows them, and us as readers, to reflect on their past, on how they came to live at Clearwater House and to get a real glimpse of their spirit and in Brandan’s case, defiance, that will make you root for them even more. There are also a few nods in the book to some of the author’s other stories so if you are a fan they are bound to make you smile.

The final chapters of the book are shocking, although, somewhat inevitable. The ending does hold some hope though, the sense that something good has managed to survive the evil inherent in the walls of that house. This is a story infused with absolute cruelty and violence, but not without a faint glimmer of positivity for you, and John, to hold on to. I really did like John as a character. He is just a lost young boy, fighting for survival who will not allow anyone to break his spirit or his absolute love for his mother. How can you not admire that. The same can be said of Brendan, a fighter, right until the very end, even when he knew what would happen to him. And as for Stone, the worst aspect of every religious nut you could imagine all wrapped into one, a character you absolutely despise and want to see get his comeuppance. Mark Tilbury never disappoints on that score either, although it may not be as fitting an end as some readers may have wanted.

Dark, devious, and full of real threat, intensity and tension, it’s another classic Mark Tilbury book. Fans are going to love it.

About the Author

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. 

After being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused. 

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had seven novels published by Bloodhound Books. His latest novel, The Last One To See Her will be published 4th June 2020.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.

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