Today I have the greatest pleasure of welcoming an exclusive excerpt from Michael Malone’s new novel The Absence of Miracles. I was lucky to receive an early proof of this book, I just have not had the chance to read it yet, which I am completely kicking myself about! Be sure to also check out my blog buddy Jacob today over @ Hooked From Page One
Let’s check out the book, what is it that everyone is raving about?In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone
Published by Orenda Books on March 1, 2020
Also by this author: After He Died
John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again. With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence. Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.
Now you can see why! Okay, I want to read what has been said on tour so far, shall we do some blog hopping?
There is such a lot in this novel, it really packs an emotional punch but everything that happens is necessary. I found the writing incredibly intense during the more emotional scenes and it was like nothing I’ve read before. Not a word is wasted in this book and I’m in awe of it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a domestic noir that has made me feel so many emotions – I cried reading this book, I felt angry at times and I mostly just wanted to reach into the pages and somehow make things different than they were.
The writing in In the Absence of Miracles flows well, the characters feel real, the story is fast-paced and the emotion is imbued upon on the pages. There is a profundity of sadness to the harrowing story that Malone is telling. The dark and shocking secrets that are waiting to be discovered and the disturbing truth that when revealed breaks you, that pulls at your heartstrings and that sees them unravel.
All in all this is a very emotional and devastating read. As the story nears its conclusion, you will find your feelings being tossed around like a tennis ball in a tumble dryer. Maybe you’ll even feel a little bruised when the story ends, mentally drained from the journeying to the emotional precipice that the author leads you to. Above all, I know I felt richer for having read it. Another brilliant read.
Jan’s Book Buzz says
Brilliantly written to keep readers turning those pages in eager anticipation for whatever is about to hit them next, Malone has created a shocking stunner of a book! Dealing with sensitive issues and repressed memory he reminds us of a time (not so long ago really) when things were perhaps tremendously different to the high-tech era that we live in today: the days of ‘The Shows’ (similar to the travelling circus), where people may have been less vigilant, less suspicious, and possibly a lot more naive and less inclined to question.
NB Magazine says
In the Absence of Miracles is elegantly crafted, a multi-layered story that reads easily, although it will weigh heavily on your heart as you feel the pain that inhabits the characters in the novel. This is a story loaded with atmosphere, it’s a gritty tale of a screwed up family in a screwed up world. The past always messes with the present but this is a particularly dark waking nightmare; a story of grief, guilt, misery and hope. Malone is a poet, there are wonderful lyrical passages here and very skilful storytelling. Some issues are not spoken about enough, Malone raises a couple of those issues and sensitively but realistically addresses them in this novel.
The Book Magnet says
Michael J Malone has stolen my words; I was left utterly speechless after reading In the Absence of Miracles and know that this is a book I will remember (and recommend) for a long time to come….. Haunting, emotional, shocking and hypnotically captivating, In the Absence of Miracles is heartbreaking and moving; nobody writes domestic noir as emotively as Michael J Malone and I doubt anyone would be able to read this book devoid of emotion. 100% without doubt this is a very highly recommended read.
I must say the way Michael has written this story is outstanding, he handled it well and I didn’t want to put it down. High praise. Ashamed to say this is the first book I’ve read by Michael but don’t worry I already have all his others waiting and have high expectations after reading this one. Very impressed!
Having never had the chance to read one of Malone’s books before, I was unsure of what to expect going in. What I ended up experiencing with In the Absence of Miracles though, was one hell of a powerful read. …… Overall, I’m giving In the Absence of Miracles 5 out of 5 and adding it to my five star favourites shelf! It’s captivating, heartbreaking and sensitively written. I can’t wait to read more from Michael J. Malone.
I knew as soon as I turned the last page of this book, that I would struggle to write a review! ‘In the Absence of Miracles’ has left my emotions shredded and my mind unsettled, in a good way. Michael J Malone has written a story that is raw, gripping, shocking and incredibly powerful. What starts out as a family mystery turns into something that plunges readers into the darkest of subjects and on a journey that is inescapable.
As always, Malone hits you square between the eyes with truths that are at once too awful to comprehend, yet providing you with an awareness that this is a very real situation for some people and he compels you to face the pain his characters are feeling, to have some semblance of understanding at how incomprehensible it is that families can inflict such damage on each other, and even worse, can find some kind of justification for it.
Malone phrases his narrative with great sensitivity and the structure of his novel lends itself well to build up the tension and the shock and awe of John’s situation. He also explores the effects of trauma on the psyche and illuminates how different people can be affected by trauma in a variety of ways.
This is some amazing praise! I need to pull my finger out! So let us check out the excerpt that I know you are all eager to read!
✮ Excerpt ✮
Grateful for Angela’s sensitivity I dropped her off then made my way to my childhood home. I let myself in and stood in the small hallway for a long moment as if letting myself settle back into the space.
Although Mum had been hospitalised weeks earlier, the air felt fresh. I wondered if the next-door neighbour had been coming in now and again to open the windows. From where I stood I could see into the kitchen, the sitting room to my left, my bedroom at the back, downstairs. As I expected, the place was spotless. Looking at the bare cream-coloured walls and the hoover track marks on the carpet it felt as if Mum had just popped out for some shopping.
The last time I’d seen my mother before she had her stroke was on the anniversary of my father’s death, a few months earlier. Mum wasn’t bothered either way about Christmas and refused to acknowledge her birthday, but was adamant that each year on the date my father died I should make the trek down to my childhood home and spend an hour or two with her.
For some reason, on this particular visit I was more reflective than normal.
‘I never got the sense that you and Dad really loved each other,’ I said, thinking out loud.
Mum recoiled. ‘What a horrible thing to say,’ she said, her expression tight.
‘Your father was the love of my life.’
She crossed her arms and stared defiantly at me. I held her gaze while I debated arguing the point. My comment was thoughtless, but to argue about her revision of her marriage would have been a waste of energy. If she coped with her grief by reframing her marriage more positively, who was I to challenge her?
Shaking my head as if that might rid me of the way my thoughts were going, I made for the kitchen and the cupboard where my dad used to stash his whisky. Bingo. Behind Mum’s almost-empty bottle of port I found a single malt that only had a couple of measures taken from it. I poured myself two fingers, threw that back. Savoured the melt across my shoulder muscles and poured myself another. This one I nursed in my left hand as I walked through the house.
Minutes later I was walking towards my old bedroom. I stopped at the threshold and allowed the memories to flood in. I’d spent hours lying on that bed, on that very red, grey and black bedspread – a colour scheme I once thought was so grown up – hands under my head, earphones in, listening to all sorts of music.
I never played the music too loud. I needed to hear what was happening in other parts of the house. And as if memory had layered echoes in my mind, I could hear Chris charging upstairs, Mum shouting after him, Dad telling us dinner was ready, Mum calling to say that my mate Paul was at the door. Chris running in and jumping on top of me, making sure the bony saucer of each knee hit me in a tender spot.
There were also times when it was deathly quiet, when Dad’s silences lay heavy in the house. When he was working a murder case we knew to tiptoe around him, that he would be quick to fury, to lash out, but just as quick to apologise.
I found him once, asleep at the kitchen table, an almost-empty bottle of whisky at his right hand. I couldn’t see a glass and guessed he’d drunk straight from the bottle. Breathless with
anxiety, certain he was dead, I studied him in the gloom, ears primed for the sound of his breath. Then he’d woken himself with a snore, lifted his head off the table and with one eye still shut he’d shouted at me to get back to bed.
He’d followed me to my room and stood on the very spot I did now, watching me as I got into bed. I pulled the quilt up around my neck as if I was protecting myself and pretended to sleep, wondering what on earth he was doing as he lingered there.
A deep grumble issued from his throat.
It sounded like, ‘Sorry, son. Not your fault.’
That was the pattern of our relationship.
Shouts, long silences, and apologies. I gave myself a shake. And another sip of whisky. I had a job to do. But where to begin?
I climbed the stairs and looked up at the access door to the loft. That had been Dad’s space. No one was allowed up there but him. I suspected it would be covered in a thick layer of dust – I couldn’t think of anyone who might have gone up there since he died.
Okay someone punch me in the arm or something because I deserve it for not reading this sooner!!!
Until next time xxx
Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the tour invite and the Publisher and the author for an excerpt from the book.