The Stopped Heart
By: Julie Myerson
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 3/29/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
Internationally bestselling author Julie Myerson’s beautifully written, yet deeply chilling, novel of psychological suspense explores the tragedies—past and present—haunting a picturesque country cottage.
Mary Coles and her husband, Graham, have just moved to a cottage on the edge of a small village. The house hasn’t been lived in for years, but they are drawn to its original features and surprisingly large garden, which stretches down into a beautiful apple orchard. It’s idyllic, remote, picturesque: exactly what they need to put the horror of the past behind them.
One hundred and fifty years earlier, a huge oak tree was felled in front of the cottage during a raging storm. Beneath it lies a young man with a shock of red hair, presumed dead—surely no one could survive such an accident. But the red-haired man is alive, and after a brief convalescence is taken in by the family living in the cottage and put to work in the fields. The children all love him, but the eldest daughter, Eliza, has her reservations. There’s something about the red-haired man that sits ill with her. A presence. An evil.
Back in the present, weeks after moving to the cottage and still drowning beneath the weight of insurmountable grief, Mary Coles starts to sense there’s something in the house. Children’s whispers, footsteps from above, half-caught glimpses of figures in the garden. A young man with a shock of red hair wandering through the orchard.Has Mary’s grief turned to madness? Or have the events that took place so long ago finally come back to haunt her…?
From past to present, a cottage in a remote English village, provides a chilling setting. Talented, Julie Myerson delivers an emotional, atmospheric haunting tale, THE STOPPED HEART --dual time periods, over a hundred and fifty years apart linked by tragedy. (love the cover) Mary, a former publicist, is left devastated by the deaths of her daughters. She and husband attempt to build a new life in a rural cottage. Eliza is a 13-year-old farmer’s daughter, living in the same house a century earlier. How do the two stories connect? Crimes of the past. Secrets. Lies. Eliza, resides in a small 19th century English farming community. She lives on a farm with her large family, tending to her younger six siblings. One night there is a storm. An old tree fell. A man came just like the rain, lightening, thunder, and a raging storm. The cold and blackness. A city boy (definitely not country), James Dix, the red-haired mystery stranger is pinned under the tree. It missed him by an inch. He recovers and Eliza’s father hires him to help out on the farm. Eliza, the oldest-- does not care for the man; however, others seem to be under his spell. She thinks he is evil. Lottie, the younger sister, four years old-- has a gift and sees things. Reincarnation. The dog does not like James. She thinks she was a dog before she died. He weaves himself into their lives. A hundred and fifty years later, Mary and Graham Coles are looking at buying an old rundown cottage. A former orchard. Escaping their own tragedy, they buy the old cottage in a remote English village, hoping for a fresh start. Mary is drawn to the home far away from London, friends and reminders of their loss – their daughters. (we learn about this further on into the novel). Graham hopes this will pull her out of her depression. The neighbor Eddie. However, soon there are echoes of the past. A sense of voices, a dark presence, a red haired man in the orchard. Kids, steps and floors creak, doors. Shouts. A magpie. A connection – two parallels, linked. The author cleverly and slowly peels back the dark layers at her own pace, keeping the reader glued to the pages. The setting feels real and the narrators, Elizabeth Knowelden and Lucinda Clare delivered a chilling performance. A clever spine-chilling INTENSE and haunting story. Evocative, a twisted blend of Gothic, supernatural, horror, ghosts, mystery, and psychological suspense. Loss, grief, pain, love hearts broken, madness, memories, emotional devastation. For fans of Tana French and Kate Morton. My first book by the author, and look forward to more!
“On the first page, it’s clear that something indescribably horrific has happened…. This novel is impossible to put down; it will be read compulsively to learn the what of what has happened, if not the why. A stunner.” (Booklist(starred review)) “Myerson twines a delightfully twisted tale, exposing the dark underbelly of love and the gaping, raw wounds of grief… By turns terrifying and heartbreaking; an enthralling spine-chiller.” (Kirkus Reviews) “Beautifully written and cleverly told…. An extraordinarily potent experience and not for the faint-hearted.” (The Guardian) “The story is heart wrenching, unremittingly grisly…. A thriller and…a page-turner…. The Stopped Heart exposes the flesh of the lives cut in half, the pain and loves of the past, and why they are no less real than the present.” (Independent (UK)) “Myerson evokes mystery and madness, with glimpses into devastating events, the full extent of which are slowly and skillfully uncovered.” (Vogue (UK)) “This novel is beautifully written and cleverly told. And it’s almost completely terrifying…. Edge-of-your-seat suspense…. It’s the sort of book you cannot put down.” (The Guardian (UK)
About the Author
The novelist Julie Myerson was born in Nottingham in 1960. She read English at Bristol University and has worked for the National Theatre and in publishing. She also works as a journalist and contributes reviews and articles to newspapers, magazines and radio programmes. Her first novel, Sleepwalking, was published in 1994, followed by The Touch (1996), Me and the Fat Man (1998), and Laura Blundy (2000). Her most recent novel, Something Might Happen, which explores the devastating effect of a brutal murder on the inhabitants of a small seaside town in Suffolk, was published in summer 2003 and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Read More