Ever Fallen in Love is a novel shrouded in mystery and suspense; many questions are raised and yet few are actually answered. Throughout these pages, Zoë Strachan hints at her protagonist Richard’s shadowy history, as she gradually reveals details of his university exploits.
The chapters alternate between past and present, depicting both Richard’s life in the Western Isles as he designs an advanced video game and his time at university. In the present, his peaceful and isolated existence is disturbed by the arrival of his sister, who is harbouring a few secrets of her own. As she prises information from Richard, we are gradually introduced to his corrupted past, tainted by drugs, alcohol, voyeurism and death. In the final chapter of Ever Fallen in Love, Strachan merges the two timelines and blurs Richard’s past and his present. As the novel draws to a close, whilst Richard’s past has been unveiled, his future is not so clear.
…the later chapters, crammed with revelations and secrets…
Although at times the content is sinister – teeming with issues regarding sexuality, class and love – Strachan’s style is informal and colloquial. In addition, despite a demanding and undeniably bleak plot, the likeable and multi-dimensional characters make Ever Fallen in Love an enjoyable and interesting read.
Despite its merits I have one reservation with the book: it’s pace. The first half is slow and, although the characters are well developed, the plot feels lacklustre and lifeless. It is not until the later chapters, crammed with revelations and secrets, that the plot becomes dynamic and riveting. Here, the novel is captivating, dramatic and impossible to put down. Had Strachan distributed the drama and excitement more evenly, this novel would be unforgettable. The first half of the novel may be read in fortnight, whereas the second you will read in an afternoon.
Ever Fallen in Love is published by Sandstone Press and is available for £8.99
Image courtesy of Zoë Strachan