"Marcus is puzzled by the gift his grandfather has bequeathed him. But when his inheritance leads him to Butterfly Lane and to the charming but troubled Sophia; to Alex, his grandfather's fiery Greek adversary, who covets Marcus's inheritance; and to Benjamin, a shadowy recluse, the reason for his grandfather's gift becomes clear."

A Few Things To Note:

  • This review is 100% spoiler-free!
  • The book is only available in ebook format: free to download on Kindle Unlimited, or £1.99 from the Kindle store. Get it here.
  • This edition was published on 12th January 2014.
  • It is 370 pages long, and something of a coming of age story with some mystery and a bit of romance. Check out the Goodreads Page
  • This is George Mournehis's debut novel.

I'll admit that I was drawn to this book by the intriguing plot, but what really convinced me to download it was the glowing reviews dotted across the internet. If you take a peak at what readers have to say about this novel, you get a sense of true, unmasked enjoyment. People seem to really adore this story; whether it's the plot, characters or Mournehis's writing style that they fell in love with is irrelevant - what attracted me to this was the universal sense of engagement that exuded from the reviews people were leaving. It's not often that happens with ebooks that are either free (which is when I downloaded this as it was on a promotion) or selling for very little.

George Mournehis has a very immersive writing style, and by using the allotment as a kind of shared nucleus for multiple characters, he cleverly builds this world for us to explore through various perspectives. We get a lot of descriptions of the muddy environment, as well as the magnificent plants, fruits and vegetables that sprout up along the way, and it's almost as though the allotment is a beacon of activity all hours of the day. Our primary voice is Marcus and, like him, we are newcomers to this world that the other characters have been existing in for some time. From the moment we are introduced to him, it's clear that ultimately we are supposed to like Marcus, although this becomes more apparent later on in the novel. He's got an entertaining voice with a dry humour that makes even the most sensitive of situations almost funny to sit through, and you find that even when he is at his worst or his most immature, you want to stay in his head.

He undergoes the journey of actually growing up over the course of the novel, and I do think that he does manage to do this quite thoroughly, but I was left unconvinced by his final decisions at the end. Initially he's very immature, taking drugs, philandering and only living within the moment. Over the course of the story you gradually see why his grandfather had such belief in him, and you do get to see him become the kind of man you'd expect him to be. Then the plot thickens, and you think a romance is developing in a way that you can almost predict - but not in an annoying way because by this point you want it to happen because it's at the perfect point in the story - and then another curveball is thrown, which was dealt with excellently initially, but then leads to some decisions I just couldn't see Marcus making. In a lot of ways it's very much in tune to the character that he is - he has the best intentions even if his motivations are cloudy sometimes - but in regards to this it just felt like he was going back on a lot of the personal development he had undergone. He makes the right decision in terms of responsibility, but he also seems to settle and turn his back on what he seemed to truly want.

Saying that, I must stress that I'm in the minority with this opinion! Most people really applaud his choice and see it as the final piece to the puzzle of him growing up, and I do see this way. I just don't buy it...

The second main perspective we get is that of Sophia. She's set up as being a responsible woman with a strong sense of duty to her father, and she's meant to be Marcus's counterpart. It's the whole opposites attract thing for a short while, and Mournehis makes you enjoy this dynamic by making her a bit of a Debbie Downer at times so that Marcus's personality refreshes her. She's easy to relate to and pretty likeable; I found that her consistent ability to stick by her decisions was admirable, and I loved the relationship between her and her father because of how honest and real it was. I didn't enjoy the way her story ended (or began, depending on how you look at the ending), but that was more to do with it being too neatly wrapped up as opposed to me not wanted her to be happy as a character.

What makes this novel truly special are the enigmatic side characters. Marcus's grandfather, though only present through letters and memories, is a fantastic character whose voice you really buy into and trust. Sophia's father and Benjamin are both intriguing the whole way through, and whilst you don't always understand them, you find their segments eerily peaceful. Alex is an incredibly frustrating character who only seems to feel and see things as extremes. He ended up truly shocking me, and I have to say that for a side character to be that powerful was a really refreshing thing to perceive.  

All in all I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a good coming of age story with some brilliant characters and an immersive plot. I may not have loved the ending, but I really did enjoy reading it; it's a good one to curl up with at night, and once you've put it down you're bound to think about the characters for hours!