Book: Of Magpies and Men Author: Ode Ray Genre: Fiction, Mystery Pages: 280 (Kindle) Publication Date: 2nd February 2021 My Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
*Disclaimer: I was given a free advanced reader copy (e-ARC) of Ode Ray's book 'Of Magpies and Men' in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Ode for this opportunity.
Trigger Warning(s): Bullying, difficult family relationships, mild homophobia. Mentions of grief, poverty, surrogacy and loss.
Can any good come of longings that a person can never satisfy? If so, good for whom? Two corpses wash ashore in a picturesque Italian village, the violence that put them there is bound to a long held secret and two strangers living worlds apart with seemingly nothing in common. Benedict Grant a high achiever, wealthy Londoner, leading a lonely life. Marie Boulanger a nurse and single mum, struggling to make ends meet in Marseille. However, a mother’s illicit revelation will set in motion a chain of events that will reshape their identities, stir poignant family affairs and delve into the by-products of lawless decisions. Discover a captivating and moving tale of impossible yearnings that will stay with you long after its final page and a twist you won't see coming. Synopsis provided by the author Ode Ray.
Of Magpies and Men opens in Italy 2017, where a boat containing two bodies has crashed into the harbour. The local detectives begin to ask around for witnesses in an attempt to piece together the puzzle of who they are, and how they got there.
We're then taken back to 2009, where we're introduced to Benedict Grant, an affluent banker living in London. Soon after, we meet Marie Boulanger, a nurse and single mum living in Marseille. Of Magpies and Men jumps between the two timelines as the reader attempts to work out what connects them, and how this links to the two bodies in Italy.
From the synopsis, I didn't really know what to expect. The prologue suggested that the book was of a mystery/thriller genre, yet it soon moves on from the detectives and delves into Benedict's family situation and Marie's financial difficulties. Initially, I did find the first few chapters a little jumpy. This made it difficult to keep track of who was who, and keep up with the contrasting timelines between them, yet it all becomes clear soon enough.
I enjoyed Ode's way of introducing her characters, I liked how we could get to know and understand them through observing how they react to different people and situations. For example, despite Benedict being a highly successful banker, once put into a social gathering, he struggles to socialise with others.
That being said, I disliked Benedict as a character (at first, anyway). Within the first few chapters, Benedict approaches a person at a bar, describing them as his 'prey' and a 'target', which was a little uncomfortable to read. Naturally, there'll always be characters that don't sit well with you, but I did find him creepy at times which made for a difficult read. Yet admittedly over time, after plenty of character development, he does grow on me. Marie, on the other hand, was a kind-hearted nurse who would clearly do anything for her son. I found Marie's story more enjoyable to read, and I preferred her as a character too. I really felt for her situation and empathised with her, while I didn't have the same connection with Benedict.
Overall, I'd rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars. This is an intriguing story full of mystery and surprises - with a shocking twist at the end! Although it took me a short while to really get my teeth into the story, it is a gripping read that keeps you guessing right until the end. I should mention that there are some elements of this book that some readers may feel uncomfortable with, such as Benedict's tone at the beginning and also mild homophobia. As a trigger warning, there's also themes of bullying, surrogacy, loss and difficult family relationships. Thank you again to the author Ode Ray for this wonderful opportunity. If you'd like to find out more about the author, click here. You can find 'Of Magpies and Men' on Amazon and Goodreads. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with or endorsed by any links in this blog post. I will not receive anything if you buy this book or use the above links.
Ode Ray is a debut author. She was born just outside of Marseille, France. Since 2007, she has been based in leafy Oxfordshire, UK with her family. After spending most of her working life as a Marketer, educating consumers about the wonders of products such as whiteboards, she decided to put pen to paper to write “stories” of a different kind. Between school pick-ups and whilst also looking after her adorable toddler (who has yet to find a bookshelf he wouldn’t climb), she eventually finished her first novel, Of Magpies and Men.
Take care and stay safe,