The Summer We All Ran Away by Cassandra Parkin
Published by Legend Press in 2013
My copy: Kindle ebook
When nineteen year old Davey finds himself drunk, beaten and alone, he is rescued by the oddly-assorted inhabitants of an abandoned and beautiful house in the West Country. Their only condition for letting him join them is that he asks them no questions.
More than thirty years ago in that same house, burned-out rock star Jack Laker writes a ground-breaking comeback album, and abandons the girl who saved his life to embark on a doomed and passionate romance with a young actress. His attempt to escape his destructive lifestyle leads to deceit, debauchery and even murder.
This is one of those novels that is very hard to define. Part-mystery, part-thriller, part-romance, it really does have a bit of everything. And this odd mix seems to work – mostly…
We start in the present day, with our 19-year-old hero Davey stumbling drunk out of his house and finding himself mysteriously drawn to a seemingly abandoned old house – only to discover three squatters inside; the motherly Kate, Tom – a man with a mysterious past, and foul-mouthed worldly-wise 16-year-old scouser Priss. We then go back in time to the same house in the 70s, where a debauched party is in full swing. Here we are introduced to musician Jack Laker who is struggling with his demons.
This style works really well and it’s interesting how the two stories slowly come together and eventually meet up at the end. I also liked the characters, who all have their own unique characteristics as well as a dark past that, in most cases, is eventually revealed. The setting of the old abandoned house is creepy but also gives a great sense of the past with the dusty old 70s furniture and crazy wallpaper.
I found this to be a real page-turner as there are so many mysteries and stories that need to be resolved. I liked the growing friendship between Davey and Priss and the glimpses of their pasts. On the downside, I found some of the dialogue to be quite badly written and also there seemed to be quite a lot of errors in my Kindle version, which made some parts of the narrative hard to follow. There were also some sections towards the end written in text speak (or should I say txt spk), which may have been authentic but was actually really annoying to read in this context, and I found myself skimming through these parts.
The end of the novel was both satisfying and disappointing in equal measure! Many of the mysteries were solved, and past and present came together, but I also found much of the conclusion really messy and there was one bit that I didn’t understand at all (although this may well have been something I missed)!
Overall I did enjoy this novel and I found it very easy to read. The characters were unique and memorable and I loved the setting of the abandoned house. I did find the ending let it down a bit and parts of the dialogue just didn’t quite fit together, but overall it was a good, gripping read.