Josh Alliston's Reviews > The Concrete Grove

The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon
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Aug 16, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, horror, read-on-kobo
Read from July 25 to August 16, 2011

I'm having trouble writing a review of The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon.

It is, as I see it, a novel of two parts. The first is a gritty, real life drama about a mother trying to protect her daughter in a harsh world of gangs and loan sharks. Into this grey life steps a small ray of light, a kind man who might well be the salvation they desperately need – but this would-be saviour has his own dark secrets.

The second is just as dark as the first, but instead of being grounded in the real it is a strange and intriguing supernatural horror, with monsters and demons haunting the Concrete Grove. These demons are worshipped by crime-lords and have a sinister plan for certain young girl.

I loved the supernatural elements to this book. McMahon manages to make humming-birds terrifying and TV-headed demons even more so. It is creepy, haunting and intense in all the right ways, and had me jumping at shadows.

The problem is there is not enough of it, the story revolves too much around the 'real-life' problems of our protagonists – Lana and her daughter Hailey, and their would-be hero Tom. They do have interesting lives, with Lana in trouble with loan sharks and Tom looking after his disabled wife, but it was too real, too depressing, and I couldn't really relate. I also found the frequent sexual scenes off putting. These weren't necessarily full sex scenes, occasionally just a thought that pops into a characters head, but they were often crass and uncalled for, a just made for uncomfortable reading.

Having said that I really did enjoy The Concrete Grove, I just found it hard going sometimes. It's a brutal novel that I would recommend to anyone who likes their horror with an edge, I just found it a bit too harsh, a bit too hard.

Recommended – for some.
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08/04/2011 page 215
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