An ARC copy was provided by Netgalley and Dundurn Press in exchange for an honest review. I’ve written the review as spoiler free as possible.
Evie covers some heavy and serious ground – death, loss, grief, small town syndrome, struggling to cope with anxieties, struggling to fit in. Yet it does this in an easy to read style. It’s eloquently written that makes it effortless and absorbing to read.
It’s written from three perspectives. Firstly, Kent. The recounting of his brother’s death is really moving, it’s told in a series of flashbacks yet you don’t get the full details of what happened i.e. how old he was but you can feel the after effects through Kent’s perspective.
The second perspective is Sarah’s, about eight years later. They were at school together but never met until Sarah returns to Durham. The story gets a bit surreal towards the end, the perspective changes between Sarah and Kent with Evie putting in an appearance.
The third perspective, Reza’s, is where it starts to get very surreal. I had to re-read earlier chapters and this section several times, I felt I missed a whole chunk of the story. This part is set a few years after Sarah’s. Reza talks about how he was Jeff’s boyfriend, had a cat called Carl and goes looking for Kent Adler the poet – who initially comes looking for him in a dream but initially is only known as ‘Adler’ but there’s no connection that he’s Jeff’s brother. Kent Adler was born in 1952 and died in 1976. This means he died probably before Sarah was born. The implication is that Jeff was young when he died which contradicts with Reza’s account of being in Jeff’s apartment and receiving an email a few weeks before. His relationship with Sarah is quite unusual, strained, very similar to Sarah and Kent’s.
Kent’s perspective gives no indication of time frame, however, given that he was using a video recorder, Sarah’s perspective is about 8 years later and mentions Facebook suggests it was at least 1990s, probably 2000s. Reza’s perspective is a few years after this.
This surreal element seems to transcend time, perspectives merge, the narrative changes but it does this seamlessly so you question whether you misunderstood something or missed a vital part of the story. Yet for me, rather than confusing or detracting from the story, it added to the mystery and really makes you think about the possibilities that the author is
The characters are very honest with their accounts, you feel like you get to know them intimately. I certainly didn’t question the reliability of their accounts, it’s almost like the central themes of Evie, the forest and the clearing suggest some kind of fantasy, echoes of the past or future like some kind of ghost story or alternate realities.