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This is the first time I've read anything by this author and I was impressed. John Elliott is vicar of the church of St Joseph somewhere in the North East of England. He has a small and apparently unchanging congregation and nothing he does seems to increase the numbers and he does not altogether believe he has a vocation. Then he meets an unusual small boy - the Theo of the title - and his life starts to unravel before his eyes.

I found this short read somewhat sinister but I found I had to keep reading to find out what happened. There is a lot which is unexplained and left to the reader's imagination which intensifies the strange atmosphere. I am not keen on anything written in the present tense which is why I have not given it five stars but apart from that I thought the novella well written. It has interesting themes of madness, death and redemption and it left me wondering what would happen to John Elliot and his wife Christine after the end of the story.

This novella comes with the first three chapters of the author's latest book - Light Shining in the Forest - which features some of the characters from Theo: A Novella. I think I shall be reading that at some point as I enjoyed this novella.
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Once again, Paul Torday has written a thought provoking and, slightly disturbing, novella - this time with a theme relevant to the Christmas season.

John Elliott is the vicar of the Church of St Joseph of Arimathea. Along with his wife, Christine, he hosts coffee mornings and tries to enlarge his congregation, which consists of sixteen elderly regulars. Both John and Christine are questioning whether this is a worthwhile prospect. Meanwhile, lead is stripped from the church roof and the young only appear for christenings or weddings. Christine is a teacher at a local school, where the headteacher tries to keep the vicar at bay. However, one day Christine asks him to help organise a football match and, it is there that he meets Theo - a young boy who has a most unsettling effect on him. As John is plagued by dreams and feelings of fear, he goes to visit Alfred Stone, the former vicar, who is now a patient at St Mark's hospital for the mentally well. "What if it is all true?" Stone asks. Indeed, what if it is? Does John really believe and are his beliefs being questioned? Why did Alfred Stone have a breakdown and does he understand what John is going through?

This short novella really packs a lot into a few pages. The place of religion in our society and how much it really means, even to those, such as John and his small congregation, is questioned without mercy. Torday shines a light on our true beliefs and how religion is represented in todays society within this excellent novella.

The end of the book has a taster of his forthcoming novel, Light Shining in the Forest. Personally, I never read samples of books, but this is definitely one I have on pre-order. If you enjoy this novella, then you may also like a previous novella Torday wrote, Breakfast at the Hotel Déjà vu: A Novella, as well as his many novels. He really is a writer who never disappoints and I recommend this highly.
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on 19 September 2014
Theo A Novella by Paul Torday.
"The mind can play tricks on you. Sometimes people see things just because they want to see them."
Trailers have always been popular in promoting new films about to be released. The new trend in novels is to release a prequel or a parallel story to lead into the main novel. Writers seem to favour the ebook to promote their latest novel. Theo is a prequel to Light Shining in the Forest, a macabre tale of murder, child abduction and the supernatural.
John Elliott is the main character, a disillusioned priest, questioning his beliefs and deciding that he was a failure. He is the vicar of St. Joseph's church although he could quite so easily have been an accountant or a solicitor. His world was turned upside down when his father, a Minister of the Church of Scotland died suddenly at the age of 50. John was devastated and believed that by studying theology at Durham University would be the best path to follow. Initially, he was full of optimism hoping to encourage his parish to attend the church instead of filling just the first three rows of the church with its ageing members and the rest of the church empty.
News that someone has ripped off a long section of lead from the roof causing water to leak through the roof adds to the depression at the opening for someone who is already regretting his "vocation". John's wife Christine was a primary teacher and it was through contact at the school that Theo was introduced, an unusual child with serious wounds and marks to indicate that he was physically abused.
The Reverend Alfred Stone was the previous vicar who suffered a mental breakdown and was being treated at St. Mark's. He asked to see John twice and questioned John's beliefs in God and the church. "Do you believe in the resurrection? Do you believe Jesus really died?" John was shocked by these questions, more so when he was asked if he had experienced any strange dreams. He is told that when he next visits Alfred he will learn about an incident that happened a few years ago at St Joseph's. A disturbing incident.
George is disfigured with a snout-like face and he likes to remain in the shadows watching the children playing. He admits to not having had a proper childhood. He attends the church for one year then mysteriously leaves. John finds him odd and an enigma.
A sinister figure, a mad person, mysterious night-time wanderings in the graveyard and cryptic warnings linked to stigmata. recurrent nightmares. Why does Theo need protection? What is going on? Find out……….
ebook available from Amazon.
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on 14 January 2014
I tried this novella as a taster (it's a side story to Torday's novel Light Shining in the Forest) and it immediately had me intrigued. Set in the North East close to the Scottish border, a local boy begins to manifest signs of stigmata on his hands that then disappear. The novella is taken from the viewpoint of the local priest who is baffled and disturbed by this - and causes a crisis in his life.
It made me download the full novel straight afterwards!
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on 19 May 2013
Having just read, and been mesmerized by, PaulTorday's novel 'The girl on the landing' I approached his novella 'Theo' with anticipation. I read it at one sitting and was gripped from the first page. Torday writes brilliantly and creates both unease and belief in his characters for his readers.
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on 23 November 2013
Very good,Paul Torday at his best,good character building
Small list of characters but do not want to have to remember too many names
Wanted a quick read after reading previous book and this did the job
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on 20 September 2014
As with other Torday books it links to other stories.... this one links to a rather sinister story but puts a different spin on part of it. Once I started reading I didn't stop - luckily it's quick to read.....
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on 18 January 2014
A kind of OK book but a bit strange. The ending was abrupt - a good ending but with loose ends. We'll never know what happened to Theo now.
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on 30 May 2014
This is a brilliant 'follow on' from Paul Torday. Interlinking stories was something he excelled at. Theo is totally unforgettable.
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on 29 January 2013
Excellent kindle reading. This book I would definitely recommend to my friends. Paul Torday is one of my favourite authors.
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