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on 16 April 2017
I originally picked this book up while traveling in India, it was the only one of a few English language books available and the only one I felt looked worth reading. I since bought another copy to pass to a friend.

I am an intermittent reader, sometimes dragging books out over a few months and occasionally reading them in around a week. This is one of the first books I have picked up and started and not put down until I finished. It isn't the longest, but also not a short story style book.
I read the entire thing until well into the night desperately following through the gripping story of Terrance Cave's personal struggles.
As a reader you don't need to go in to this book with any idea of the plot or story, just know that once started I am sure you will be engaged through to the end.

It is dark and occasionally difficult emotionally, but one of the most engaging and gripping looks at mental health and dealing with it, since reading this book I sought out more from Matt Haig, amongst his other work I would especially recommend the Humans released in 2013.
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I must admit that I struggled to decide on how many stars to give this book. As usual for Matt Haig's books it is brilliantly written and the story is unsual, clever and keeps you hooked until the end, BUT, I found this a very uncomfortable read.
It is the story of a mild mannered antique shop owner and his journey into madness. It makes King Lear look like a harmless train spotter. His wife is murdered in a bungled robbery and years later his son dies in an accident trying to impress the group of lads he hung out with. This just left Mr Cave with the boys twin sister. And that is where the nightmare begins. It is a horror story but not in the Stephen King/Mark Morris squashed eyeball or exploding head type. This is a "there but by the grace of God go I" type of story.
The possession comes in 2 forms, he wants to possess his daughter, controlling her life to such an extent that he destroys what he loves the most and the other possession is the root of his madness as he thinks he is possessed by the spirit of his dead son.
The story cleverly builds up the tension so that by the end you are drawn into Mr Cave's mad mind and you see how far he has really gone to exact revenge on a seemingly evil world and protect his daughter.
Very dark and perhaps even gothic, if you beleive the dust jacket, but like all of Matt Haig's books well worth the read.
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on 3 May 2011
I can completely understand the other reviewer when he mentions this being an uncomfortable read and not sure what rating to give it, but I have decided to go for a five.

It can be uncomfortable at times, but it should be. A subject like this shouldn't be easy. However, although it is very dark, Matt Haig has made parts witty, although, the story being so dark, there were probably times that I missed some of the wit.

It is amazingly addictive and I just found myself wanted to continue reading just a bit more before I turned the lights out. I felt for Mr Cave and his daughter and can understand the fears he had for her. As must every father of a young daughter. Matt Haig, even in his young age seems to have captured the mind of a middle-aged father (that is losing his mind) and that of a teenage girl brilliantly. The characters really came alive for me and I was only disappointed that the book had to come to an end.

I have read Matt Haig's first novel Last Family in England and loved that too, so I can't wait to read his other books now. I can't believe I didn't see this book in all the bookshop windows. This is not a book to be missed.
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on 5 January 2014
This is one of those reads that haunts you... sadness, disbelief, frustration and shock and yet all so seemingly understandable as you're reading.. the descent was almost subtle and yet so glaringly obvious. A masterpiece.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 February 2012
Mr Cave is a dealer in antiques. He lives above the shop with his daughter Bryony, whose twin brother Reuben recently died after an incident for which Mr Cave, quite wrongly, blames one of the boy's friends, Denny. Bryony is around 15 and since the death of her brother Mr Cave has introduced a long list of rules designed to protect her. Bryony has an ally in Cynthia, sister of the children's mother who died when the twins were small. Mr Cave has ideas which do not countenance any ordinary future for his daughter. He narrates throughout and we are in no doubt as to his opinions. His daughter has always been special, a serene and beautiful girl who plays the cello like an angel. It is obvious to Mr Cave that she is destined for a prestigious future.

We learn that Reuben has always taken second place in their father's thinking. Where Bryony got a horse, Reuben, who had a birthmark on his face, was lucky to get a bicycle. But things aren't going as Mr Cave feels they should. The ordinary pressure points of a teenager's life - sex, status, friendships and clothes - are beyond his fathoming. Sometimes he feels as if Reuben has come back and is haunting him, directing him towards certain activities which threaten to erupt in violence.

This is all oddly enjoyable, even though Mr Cave is not a likeable person and his attempts to manage (though he would say "protect") his daughter are catastrophically ill-advised. Inevitably there is a climactic night of disaster. We necessarily see everything from Mr Cave's point of view and as a result we don't get much chance to develop much feeling for the other characters. This is Mr Cave's disaster, and one feels he will never really recover. It's a very good read, particularly valuable for over-protective fathers.
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on 4 April 2015
Written in a style, so deep,so full of feeling and so frightening. How the human mind can be twisted out of shape by external circumstances and its own weaknesses. Not everybody will complete this read but if you can it will have been worth it.
Matt is becoming my favourite author of all time.
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on 1 December 2014
Amazing. A brilliant brilliant read. Had me hooked from start to finish. I love the way Matt writes. His style is captivating. I have read The Human first then this and now moving onto The Last Family. Fantastic.
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on 20 July 2015
Very depressing book, must have been written whilst in his dark period. Very difficult to empathise with the characters
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on 5 May 2015
Half way through this book. If you like suspense you will enjoy this book.
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on 30 September 2015
Not too keen on the content but the book was in good condition
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