Seventeen-year-old Simon’s sister Charlotte is missing. The lonely Fenland village the family recently moved to from London is odd, silent, and mysterious. Simon is epileptic and his seizures are increasing in severity, but when he is told of the local curse of the Naseby Horses, he is convinced it has something to do with Charlotte’s disappearance. Despite resistance from the villagers, the police, and his own family, Simon is determined to uncover the truth, and save his sister.
Under the oppressive Fenland skies and in the heat of a relentless June, Simon’s bond with Charlotte is fierce, all-consuming, and unbreakable; but can he find her? And does she even want to be found?
Drawing on philosophy, science, and the natural world, The Naseby Horses is a moving exploration of the bond between a brother and his sister; of love; and of the meaning of life itself.
I get very excited when Louise Walters Books is due to publish a new novel. I’m currently hooked (and hotly anticipating the next title) on the The Wilde Investigations Series by Laura Laakso and Don’t Think a Single Thought by Diana Cambridge is a hot contender for one of my books of the year. So I was very much looking forward to reading the latest release, The Naseby Horses by Dominic Brownlow (available to purchase now in hardback and ebook format – see purchase links further down the page for more details).
It certainly has the wow factor, particularly in terms of the use of language. It is an awe-inspiring assault on the senses, and the use of imagery is incredibly vivid and so sensory laden that it becomes overwhelming at times. The novel is, quite frankly, a masterclass in how to use language to invoke atmosphere. Everything felt so tangible, and the oppressive skies of the Fens referred to in the blurb make for an uncomfortable read. I’ll be honest and say it took me much longer than average for me to read this book because I was so often inspired and my mind went off on a tangent.
However. That also has its drawbacks. My fascination with the language meant that I felt removed from the story for much of the time and as a result I wasn’t as invested in the characters as I felt I should be until the latter stages, but once I had fallen into the story I loved the flashbacks which demonstrated the bond between Simon and Charlotte, and I enjoyed the suspicion with which I held Simon under as a narrator.
One of my favourite elements of the novel was the folklore/supernatural theme in the form of the curse of the Naseby Horses, and I really enjoyed how this unfolded into the final scenes. I intend, at some point to revisit this novel because I feel that on second reading there will be so much that I missed the first time around and I feel that I will have a more rounded, full appreciation of what The Naseby Horses truly has to offer.
It is a complex read teetering at the edge of what I would consider to be commercial/accessible literary fiction. Whilst I can’t say that I enjoyed it as a relaxing pleasure read – it demanded far too much brain power, I did consider it to be an extraordinary reading experience.
About the Author
Dominic Brownlow lives near Peterborough with his two children. He lived in London and worked in the music industry as a manager before setting up his own independent label. He now enjoys life in the Fens and has an office that looks out over water. The Naseby Horses is his first novel. It was long listed for the Bath Novel Award 2016.
Louise Walters Books: https://www.louisewaltersbooks.co.uk/dominic-brownlow
*My thanks to the publisher, Louise Walters for the arc copy of this novel. As always the decision to read this novel and take part in the blog tour were my own, and this review forms my honest opinion.