Quicksand of Memory by Michael J Malone

Today I am sharing my thoughts on the brand new novel from Michael J Malone, Quicksand of Memory. I love the author’s emotional style of writing and have been looking forward to reading this one for a while. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invite. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Owned Copy
Release Date: 24 December 2021
Paperback: 14 April 2022

About the Book

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships.

Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy.

When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need.

And yet, someone is watching.

Someone who has been scarred by past events.

Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder…

My Thoughts

If there is one thing guaranteed when reading a book by Michael J Malone it is that the writing style, the complexity and lyrical nature of the narrative will elicit from readers a multitude of emotions. Be it anger or sadness, hope or despair, you will find the beautifully evocative language captures them all, and the reaction felt mirrors what you see and read on the page. That is the case with Quicksand of Memory, a story of loss and of family, of friendships, new and old, and a complex tale of regret and hatred that leads to a truly destructive desire for revenge. It is a multi-faceted, character driven drama that, whilst told largely in the present day, draws heavily on the mistakes of the past in informing the fragile security that our characters have developed.

This is, by and large, the story of Luke and Jenna. Luke is recently bereaved, raising his former partner’s son as his own as he tries to get his fledgling counselling business of the ground. Jenna is, at least temporarily, his patient, coping with her own loss and sense of regret. When the two meet you can feel the chemistry, the pull between them, but it takes a few more contrived, non-therapeutic encounters for their lives to really start to gel.

Both were characters I felt drawn to from the start. With Luke it is due to his overwhelming empathy and the real sense of emotion that we experience in learning about his loss and his own personal demons. A troubled childhood, mistakes made that are set to change the course of his whole future, but from which he needs to find redemption. But for all his mistakes, there is a tenderness to Luke which makes him impossible not to like, in spite of the shocking revelations that are made about him over the course of the novel. This is never seen more clearly than in his unconditional love for a child who is not his own.

Jenna is also buried under the weight of grief and struggling with her mothers declining health. She is facing up to some choices in her past that leave her with an aching feeling of regret, that gave an initially flaky feeling individual a real depth of character I wasn’t expecting. I love how the author always manages to make their feelings, the often all consuming nature of it, live on the page. It’s an almost immersive experience as I found myself also bearing the burden of this grief as the literary voyeur, and totally invested in their journey to their own version of absolution.

There is another side to this story, one that takes us beyond the everyday exploration of his fledgling relationship, and one which adds a real sense of foreboding and tension to the story. There is someone who is less than enthusiastic about Luke and Jenna’s new friendship, someone with their own selfish reasons for wanting it to fail. But again, there is a real complexity to this element of this story and the person involved is not an antagonist that I could simply hate or wish to see fail. Life is never that simple, never so black and white, and Michael J Malone has woven in so many shades of grey, such inner turmoil for this character, that it is hard to ignore that pull of empathy toward them or dismiss them as merely a bad person. Their background is troubled, their home life neglectful and abusive, and even now they are like a puppet whose strings are being pulled by someone with their own agenda. It inspires more consideration of that nature verses nurture debate, whether their final actions mean more than their original intent.

This is a very complicated story, an almost perfect storm of circumstances which lead us to a dramatic and potentially deadly conclusion. Toxic friendships, peer pressure, and misguided hero worship all colour and taint the present day. A host of what ifs and if onlys driving a quest for vengeance that can only really ever end one way. Presenting the fragile nature of the human mind, the corrosive nature of a secrets kept, and the way in which our actions can be exploited when factored into an overwhelming need for acceptance and to belong, this is another emotionally charged story that fans of the author are sure to love.

About the Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and MarkingsBlood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of SpinesAfter He Died, In the Absence of Miracles and A Song of Isolation soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

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