The Magpies, by Mark Edwards

Four stars (of five)

In my first exposure to Edwards and his work, I was quite impressed with both the storytelling and the thrill factor. After moving into their first flat together, Jamie and Kirsty find themselves ready to embark on an adventure; new life, new experiences, new neighbours. Everyone seems so welcoming, especially their downstairs neighbours, the Newtons. However, things soon take an eerie turn, with prank calls, unwelcome gifts left on their stoop and in their letterbox, and eventually malicious letters and recordings. Jamie and Kirsty begin to wonder what might have caused so many issues with Chris and Lucy Newton. A freak accident to one of Jamie’s close friends begins a new wave of horror, in which both Jamie and Kirsty are the prime targets. They utopian view on life in the flat has become a horror story even Stephen King could not pen. Facing all odds, Jamie vows to get to the bottom of things, even if it costs him everything. However, with the sly and cunning ways in which the Newtons act, it’s his word against theirs. A book sure to leave the reader wondering about their neighbours for months, Edwards paints a wonderfully disturbing picture within these pages.

Edwards aptly titles the novel, whose meaning is finally properly revealed in the epilogue. The story spins on many an axis and keeps propelling forward effectively from start to finish. Just when you think things can get no more awkward, Edwards adds a layer and keeps the Newtons as the most hated characters in the story. Edwards is able to flesh out the story to show how all the characters play a role in this larger narrative and keeps multiple storylines developing. While there is no doubt that the novel has to be a one-off, the reader is bound to want more. That is the sign of a good author; keeping the reader begging for another glimpse. Edwards’ style reminds me a lot of Canadian Linwood Barclay, though they certainly are not carbon copies of one another. Very well done and surely bound to gather more fans and additional narrative momentum the more he writes, Edwards has made a mark on the scene.

Kudos, Mr. Edwards for such a great first solo novel. Keep them coming and you’ll have no issue gathering a following of your own.

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