Thank you to McClelland & Stewart for sending me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is part of the Red House Books NetGalley Reading Challenge.
While the storyline for The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood seemed intriguing enough, it was hard for me to get through. It begins with a boy named Oscar outside the Bellwether Estate remembering where a past love had died. The story rewinds to tell the story of how Oscar, a nurse at Cedarbrooke retirement home, wanders into a church on the grounds of Oxford. An atheist at heart, he is lured in by a moving performance on the organ. From there, he meets Iris Bellwether and they instantly hit it off.
Iris’s brother, Eden Bellwether, happens to be the one playing the organ. As Oscar gets closer to Iris and her friends and family, he begins to learn about Eden’s erratic behaviour and delusions about being to heal people through his music. You’re left wondering for yourself if Eden is a genius or just plain crazy.
Of course, it’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I loved the plot of this story but I had trouble placing when the story was taking place. Wood places so much emphasis on social classes, it seemed like it was taking place in the very distant past. But someone mentions CDs or e-mails or Silicon Valley and I’d realize that this is happening in the not so distant past or maybe even present day.
I was also itching to learn more about the eccentric characters. There’s Oscar, who’s as dull as a doorknob. Iris is witty, sarcastic and beautiful but you get limited access to her thoughts. There’s also Herbert Crest, a dying psychologist whose specialty is Narcissistic Personality Disorder but he doesn’t talk much. Perhaps the only character Wood did justice was Eden who is horribly obsessed with himself (the kind of guy my friends like to date).
The book was a slow read for me. You could blame the beautiful weather I got in Toronto but the last few chapters sped up when the characters see more action. While I wasn’t over-the-moon about The Bellwether Revivals, I would keep an eye out for debut writer, Benjamin Wood, for his awesome plotlines.
Photo credits: thisiscolossal.com