Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Concrete Grove - book review

Concrete Grove is my first experience of Gary McMahon's work but it definitely won't be the last. This is a dark urban horror which isn't afraid to take its readers into the shadows.

We all know those areas of towns to stay away from. They're full of criminals and dealers, and we're happy to not live there. But what about the people who don't have a choice? What about those who have to live there? Concrete Grove concerns a few of these people, principally the mother of a teenage girl who's in debt to the local crime boss, and the man who might be the one to help her or the one to make things worse.

McMahon's creation is a frightening place. Crime boss Monty Bright has a tight hold on the area and the police don't appear too interested in doing much about him. A woman, Lana, is recently widowed and struggling to look after her daughter Hailey. She's in debt to Bright, Hailey seems to be suffering from an illness which causes blackouts and the only positive in her life is her developing relationship with Tom, the man who helps Hailey home after one of her episodes. While all this is occurring, an evil force is growing in the centre of the Grove and Hailey knows much more about it than Lana realises.

On the surface, Concrete Grove might sound like a fairly straight horror complete with a teenage girl in danger and a vile figure in the shape of Monty Bright, but McMahon takes the story into much deeper places. There are also several passages of gorgeous writing which bring to life the characters in a way lacking from some horror fiction.

Overall, this is a superb read. I'm looking forward to the sequel next year.


  1. Luke - I was considering giving this novel a go. The only thing putting me off was I had the impression it was about monsters/zombies - is that correct? I generally enjoy more subtle/supernatural/eerie novels... do you think I'd enjoy it? Great review, btw :)

  2. No zombies, Fiona. Monsters...ish. All I'll say is some of them have human faces. :)

    It's got its nasty moments but it's more atmospheric than gore. Think King, not Hutson.

  3. Thanks Luke :) I think I'll add it to my amazon to-buy list.