File Size: 397 KB
Print Length: 343 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0778315339
Publisher: MIRA (6 Sep 2013)
All over the world, people’s loved ones are returning from the dead. Exactly as they were before they died. As if they never left. As if it’s just another ordinary day. Jacob Hargrave tragically drowned over 40 years ago. Now he’s on his aged parents’ doorstep, still eight years old; the little boy they knew they’d never see again. As the family find themselves at the centre of a community on the brink of collapse, they are forced to navigate a whole new reality and question everything they’ve ever believed. No one knows how or why this mysterious event is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. The only certainty is that their lives will never be the same again.
I was browsing Netgalley when I saw The Returned. The blurb really intrigued me. The dead returning would surely be apocalyptic! How would the world cope? Not just on an emotional level but with resources too …
Harold and Lucille (Jacob’s parents) had been watching ‘the returned’ on TV when Jacob turns up on the doorstep. They had previously discussed what they would do if he returned but the reality …
They live in a small community, Arcadia, and a church meeting is called.
How they cope with their memories and the reality of Jacob still being 8 while they are aged is interspersed with brief ‘windows’ into other experiences: children not understanding why they’re not wanted; dilemmas with parents and how they feel; the reactions of the public and officials. This allows the reader to get a perspective on the personal (with Jacob) and the reach/impact outside of the community.
Holding places are quickly brought into being to hold the returned. These are more prison than anything else. Jacob is impounded and Harold chooses to stay with him while Lucille visits them with clean clothes and food. Soon resources become scarce. We get deeper and deeper into moral dilemmas …
Within the large scale impact is Harold’s own journey of coming to terms with his guilt and a letting go.
The Returned is thought-provoking and harrowing in places. The world Mott creates is very believable and some scenes will take you out of your comfort zone. Emotions are not rational or objective and Mott uses this ‘temporary insanity’ to great effect. He skilfully shows how similar we all are underneath the veneer of labels that life gives us to function in society.
I would like to thank the publisher for accepting my request to review via Netgalley.