Series: The Returned #1
Published by Harlequin on 27 August 2013
Genres: Adult Fiction, Paranormal
Source: My copy
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Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time ... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.
All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.
“People and events of wonder and magic are the lifeblood of the world.”
Imagine if someone you loved very dearly; someone who had died and who you miss with every fibre of your being; imagine they came back from the dead. Not as a zombie (which seem to be the preferred ‘return’ of the day) but just as they were before they died.
Now imagine this happening everywhere in the world. How would governments react? How would people react? These are some of the issues Mott explores in his first novel.
The story closely follows the experience of Harold and Lucille Hargrave – an elderly couple living in the South – whose eight-year-old son, Jacob, tragically drowned in 1966. Decades later Jacob is delivered to their door, still eight-years-old, with no explanation as to where he has been all these years. Is this truly their beloved son? Or is he simply a very convincing carbon copy?
The Returned has such an interesting premise. I love ‘what if’ novels and the concept struck me as original and thought provoking. It is all very well to have one deceased person return from the dead, but what happens when they all do? Personal feelings aside, it would be a logistical nightmare trying to find space in an already over-populated world.
Mott broaches the subject with sensitivity by focusing on the experience of the Hargrave family. His poetic prose conveys the difficulty of the situation, and his characters are believable. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I didn’t feel any connection with them.
I enjoyed the sections where Mott allows ‘the returned’ to narrate. They are snippets from all over the world and allow us a glimpse into these mysterious ‘beings’.
I think I may have expected too much from this book. I wanted answers where no explanation would suffice.
I have read that The Returned has been optioned for TV by the ABC and is due to air in March 2014 under the title “Resurrection”. It will be interesting to see how this novel translates to the small screen.
– I would come back for seconds.