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Impossible Causes

3.05  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  130 reviews
For readers of All the Missing Girls and You Will Know Me, Impossible Causes is a gripping thriller about isolation, power, and the lies that fester when witnesses stay silent.

For six months every year, Lark Island is fogged in, its occupants cut off completely from the mainland. The community is small, tight-knit, and deeply religious. Lark seems like a good place for 16-
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published November 19th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published October 17th 2019)
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Average rating 3.05  · 
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Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

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Cue me yapping about this book to everyone I know. What an amazing book. IMPOSSIBLE causes is like a cross between The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Wickerman, and it is so, so good. The premise is absolutely brilliant. Lark is an island off the coast of England, claustrophobic, steeped in Celtic superstition, and entirely wreathed in fog seven months out of the year. There are no cell phone towers there, no technology, and Lark ha
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew is a dark mystery/thriller that also crosses into paranormal horror. The story in this novel is one told from different points of view from an atmospheric, isolated island of Lark.

Viola Kendrick has moved to Lark with her mother after the tragic loss of her father. Also arriving on the small close knit island is Ben Hailley, a new young male teacher. All of the locals are infatuated with so many new comers to an island of less than 300 residents. Soon Viola meet
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impossible Causes is a book that caught me completely off-guard. It touts itself as a thriller but it is that and so much more; Julie Mayhew is an author to watch. This is a tense tale of isolation, witchcraft and murder with a very thought-provoking and accurate message about the insidious nature of rumour, gossip and suspicion. Set on the fictional and extremely remote North Atlantic island of Lark we are treated to a richly Gothic and often uncomfortably religious atmosphere which felt rather ...more
Impossible Causes is set on an island called Lark, population 253. Like Rebecca Wait's The Followers, it depicts an isolated, cultish community existing in the present day – with all the attendant questions and implausibilities that idea throws up. Like Catriona Ward's Little Eve, it begins with a girl sitting in a stone circle in the aftermath of a tragedy.

Along with her mother, the girl – Viola Kendrick – is a relative newcomer to Lark. The Kendricks' arrival coincides with that of a new teac
Roman Clodia
The elements of this book reminded me of lots of others: the quasi-mystical, quasi-feminist witchiness; the closed off and insular island community hiding secrets; the unstable danger of adolescent girls; the plot revolving around sex and death - and the tarot cards that mark the stages of the story. It's atmospheric, for sure, but also feels a bit like a mash-up of, say, Ann Cleeves' Shetland series with The Wicker Man and other book that make use of the uneasy relationship between Christian an ...more
Karen Barber
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is a tricky one to review, and it is certainly a book that was difficult to really get into for some time. However, by the end I was gripped and can certainly see the parallels with something like The Crucible.
Our story takes place on the remote island of Lark. We focus on the narration by Leah, a teacher on the island, who is privy to many of the secrets of the island but who seems rather detached from everything. This sense of ‘otherness’ does become important later on, as it explains why
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“How contagious evil can be... dressed in the guise of justice”

This is an odd one, a unique one.

The writing style has a feeling of the action, the characters, the story, all being behind a pane of frosted glass that the reader is trying to peer through. Everything is just slightly semantically obscured in a way that has a dreamlike effect, almost as if the story is taking place on a different plane of reality.

Everything that is, except for the setting. The location is so perfectly described, an
The Nerd Daily
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Marla Warren

While its never quite sure what it wants to be, Julie Mayhew’s Impossible Causes is still a creative story that follows an original path. At times, there is a strong historical fiction feel, and at other times, the isolated setting gives an almost post-apocalyptic vibe. Neither of these is actually the case and it occasionally grew frustrating as it made the novel difficult for me to ever settle in to.

Mayhew does an excellent job of
Amy Riddell
With a general synopsis vaguely reminiscent of The Wicker Man, Julie Mayhew’s latest work sees a young teacher travel to the fictional island of Lark, a secretive, deeply religious community populated mostly by women. The new arrival, Benjamin Hailey, quickly generates quite the excitement – he is one of very few young men on the island following a tragic drowning which saw the annihilation of most of Lark’s young male population. Two more subdued arrivals are that of Viola Kendrick and her moth ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a sinister novel set in a small, isolated community on a remote British island, Lark, which has neither mobile phones nor the internet, so is stuck in the past. Rumours abound that the 'Eldest Girls', three 16-year-olds and the eldest pupils at the local school are witches and dance naked of an evening at the standing stones. When the August ship brings three outsiders - known as coycracks by the locals - the community is stirred. There's Deborah Kendrick and her red-haired daughter Viol ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
This one here was a little difficult for me, as there was a story to tell and one to discover, but it took way too long to really get into it. And believe me, I tried. Especially with those first chapters, but it was touch and go there for the most part. If anything, the mystery that surrounded Lark island was something that needed solving. And so, I kept on reading.

That's when some of the mystery started unravelling, and more of the actual story came into focus. It had its interesting parts, b
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Net Galley for sending me a copy in exchange for a honest review. 

This was a very intriguing plot, but I felt it could have been executed a little better. For me, there wasn't much of an opportunity to connect with or get to know the characters, and I didn't like the religious aspects of it, as the religion itself wasn't truly explained. 

The changes in POVs and also time jumps back and fourth were a little confusing and didn't flow very well. 

The book follows an island community, ba
Ash | Wild Heart Reads
An isolated island, a murder, three strangers and rumours abound.

Impossible Causes was a bit of a hit and miss for me. I wanted to really like it, between the cover and the blurb I was very excited for the story. What I did like about it was the setting. The landscape and isolation of Lark was brought to life and I do love a good slightly unsettling seaside town/island based story. That said...

I did not enjoy Impossible Causes as much as I hoped, it wasn't bad per se but I struggled to connect w
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh, here we go again. Yet another one of those feminist dramatic thrillers about remote communities that promise utopia and deliver oppression instead. Impossible Causes takes place of a remote island of Lark, far off the coast of UK. There a small community survives in a more or less self sustained manner, virtually cut off from the world at large for 7 months at a time or so. The community is religious, ruled by men…and surprise, surprise, abusive to women. So as the book progresses, we are sl ...more
Vikki Patis
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't really understand the negative reviews of this book. The narrative does switch between past and present, but not in a confusing way. It is cleverly written and the author manages to keep the reader intrigued from the first page. Despite the somewhat open ending, I found Impossible Causes to be gripping and satisfying, and I loved the feminist themes running through the book. The characters are realistic and flawed, and the prose tight and intense. ...more
Criminal Element
Welcome to Lark, a remote island in the North Atlantic inaccessible to visitors for seven months out of the year. Inhabited by a small, religious community, it proudly touts its safety and adherence to an almost-forgotten way of life, in an ongoing attempt to draw immigrants to supplement the dwindling local populace. Well, the right immigrants anyway: there are a lot of forms to fill out and examinations to pass before applicants may be considered a good fit. But the promise of seclusion and sa ...more
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My thanks to NetGalley and publisher Bloomsbury Publishing Plc - Raven Books, for the ARC.
This book has loads of atmosphere - a 300-strong isolated community on the island of Lark - a 3-day North Atlantic crossing to get there - one landline computer and no phone mast. If you want to leave something behind, that's the place to go to.

However, I really struggled to make sense of most of the narrative and the eternal musings of main characters sending thoughts and story-parts off on strange and sur
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Impossible Causes tells the dark and disturbing story of life on the made-up island of Lark, where a small cult-like community reside. On the surface the island’s inhabitants seem like pious, morally conscious people, but there is something very evil lurking just beneath the surface.

I loved many aspects of this book and I thought the story and characters were good, but I found its narrative style a bit awkward and confusing at times. It is not told chronologically and the characters’ versions o
Cressida McLaughlin
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very atmospheric, chilling story, and a great setting of the island of Lark. I loved the themes of mysticism, witchcraft and religion, the way I was left guessing right up to the end. I found there were a lot of characters, and occasionally the timelines got confusing. Great premise, though, and definitely packs a punch.
I won this proof in a Twitter giveaway held by the publisher. What I have written is an honest review.

Trigger & Content Warnings are under a spoiler button as there are a few of them.

(view spoiler)

When I saw a giveaway for a proof of Impossible Causes - Julie Mayhew's adult debut - on Twitter, after looking it u
Hmmm. Not sure about this one yet.

Viola and her mother move to the isolated island of Lark in the Atlantic Ocean to leave behind ugly memories in England. What they don't know is that Lark has its own ugly secrets.

There's a lot in this one: old British paganism, a suspicious community, a world separated from modernity, dark secrets (aren't there always?), and the power and silencing of women's voices.

I liked it. I kept turning the pages, even though about half-way through, I guessed what happene
Aug 15, 2019 added it
I'm afraid I didn't finish this book.
The writing style wasn't my cup of Tea at this time.
Each time I picked it up,I was having to go back a few pages to remind myself what happened.

Not all books suit all people.
Aug 04, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf, arc
DNF. The story sounded interesting, but this writing isn't appealing to me at all. ...more
Gayatri Saikia   | per_fictionist
IMPOSSIBLE CAUSES by Julie Mayhew brings to us the story of LARK,a small island isolated from modernization and completely cut off from the mainland.

What happens when a stranger sets foot on the island, that is already carrying baggage of its own secrets, lies and deceits that is.

I personally love books that are centered on small towns and with a hint of intrigue to them. So, when I picked up Impossible Causes, I obviously liked it. The writing sort of makes you yearn for the book, but the chara
Elli (Kindig Blog)
‘Impossible Causes’ was touted to me as a sort of feminist version of The Wicker Man. An isolated community that an outsider stumbles into full of witchcraft and murder. Sounds pretty great right? I was quick to request it and then I started to see a lot of low star reviews appear. Not one to let others sway my opinion I dived into the book with an open mind and was sorely disappointed.

Although a great concept, the book is very poorly executed. We dive into different perspectives as chapters cha
Camila - Books Through My Veins
- thanks to @bloomsburypublishing for sending the book my way!

I must admit I had high expectations for this book because... witchcraft! The cover is subtlety witchy, and it screams 'read me', and of course I couldn't resist.

The writing style was a bit over-descriptive, dense and lengthy for my liking, and although I was curious about the plot development, I struggled to come back to it every single time. I pushed forward because I needed to know: what the hell is going in this island? Why every
When you get to the end of this book and realise what the storyline was, in what order things happened, and how they happened it's an enjoyable book. I can see why the author chose to jump backwards and forwards in time and I think, handled well, it could have been very powerful. But because one of the timelines, the 'now' timeline, consists of one day told in sections, separated by a lot of 'then' I found it hard to recall exactly what had happened at the start by the time I was 3/4 of the way ...more
Jacqui Huntley
The description appealed but I'm afraid that that was as far as it went for me. Yes an isolated island (although mot likely to be that wooded given it was supposed to be off the coast of north western Britain) with a fundamental religion - think Outer Hebrides and the "Wee Frees". I did feel for some of the youngster yearning for what they saw as the bright lights of mainland/towns/cities before they appreciated what they had on the island especially when incomers arrived. It seemed like a sort ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was so bad I almost didn’t list it on here, but I figured a write up would be a good reminder of why I hated it so much.

The book is trying too hard to be too much: it tries to be vague and mysterious, doling our tiny crumbs of information in an effort to keep the reader guessing, but it is too little. I spent the first third of the book trying to figure out what was happening and who all the (many many) characters were. On top of that, it keeps switching perspectives and introducing ru
Alyssa Smith
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for this ARC.

What a creepy read. It literally makes your skin crawl. What is so enticing about a tight-knit, cult-like - AND MOSTLY FEMALE (!!) community?The writing was a little hard to disappear into at times, but overall it was a decent, out of the ordinary read for me. I keep seeing comparisons to Wickerman, but it made me think of more the Sabrina remake. It was just as dark, creepy and gritty.
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