The Storm Watcher by Graham Joyce 
Reviewed by Steve Rudd


Simultaneously an unusual and extraordinary story set in France, a multitude of winning elements ensure that The Storm Watcher is always an engrossing read, as sheer drama is played up against some chilling thrills and spills.

The author in the award-winning Joyce grew up in Coventry, but over the years he has lived in various places, such as on a couple of Greek islands and in the Middle East. He sets The Storm Watcher in the seemingly innocent countryside of the peace-adorned Dordogne region, and focuses on a couple of couples, and a ‘friend’ of one of the couples – along with one of the couple’s two daughters to boot.

All of them have left England for their summer holiday, and initially everybody seems to be getting on with each other, in spite of strange behaviour elicited by one of the girls. She’s the oldest of the two sisters and is called Jessie, and much of the drama and ensuing action of the story ultimately revolves around her.

Still, there is a huge amount of tense melodrama that develops between all the adults, as Joyce skilfully concedes that one of the adults – James – is something of an ego-maniac who ‘buys his friends’. Even his wife has come to despise him.

This startling novel will appeal to fans of many genres. It’s packed with drama, just as it is with intriguing references to supernatural realms as Jessie ‘converses’ with an ‘instructor’ who advises her on all manner of matters, just as she’s coincidentally entering puberty and is right on the threshold of beginning her periods.

All of the events lead up to a suspenseful episode in which James literally disappears for a few days without a word, before he turns up much farther down south near the Pyrenees.

Still, the ultimate climax comes right near the end of the story (as it really should in all novels), when Jessie’s younger sister Beth proceeds to do a runner, into the sanctuary of a nearby corn field: in search of angels. Little does she know, however, that the whopping sounds that she mistakes for approaching sword-wielding angels are in fact the revolving blades of an approaching combine harvester…

Such a climax genuinely sets the pulse racing, providing the metaphorical icing on the cake of a must-read novel from a hugely talented writer who has also written acclaimed works entitled The Tooth Fairy, Indigo and Dreamside.

For more information on Graham Joyce and his stories, please visit www.grahamjoyce.net

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