A Prison in The Sun - Isobel Blackthorn (ARC)
"After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse. Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to - and should he hand it in... or keep it? Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s."
Trigger Warnings: homophobia, concentration camps, death
A Prison in the Sun is my first advanced-reader-copy (ARC) on this blog! I was so excited to receive my first ARC, I'm still so new to book blogging, I didn't think this would happen for years - if ever! I must admit, I found doing the review quite challenging because I was so conscious about not giving anything away. Although to be honest a character could eat a sandwich and I'd worry about whether it would spoil a main plot point!
Before going any further I better do the official disclaimer - I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review!
A Prison in the Sun will be published on the 19th November 2019. I will include all links to the author and the book at the end of this review.
Our protagonist is Trevor Moore and we follow him as he escapes on holiday to Tefia in the Canary Islands. Trevor reminded me a lot of the character 'Ross' from Friends. If you are familiar with the TV show then you'll definitely know what I mean when you read the book! They share some similar characteristics such as sometimes coming across as bitter (due to personal circumstances which are explained) and having some selfish tendencies. I must admit I didn't really like him as a character at first but I really appreciate his development throughout the book.
From my interpretation of the book, Trevor comes across as a character who is also dealing with depression and anxiety, which would be understandable given the circumstances he is dealing with. Of course, this is just my observation that I found quite interesting - the author does not explicitly say this in the book! It is very subtle and as someone who has also had some experience dealing with anxiety I could relate to some of his behaviours such as the paranoia and feeling like the world is watching your every move. It added a different, real side to this character which helped me understand him more.
I promise not to say anything too revealing but I do want to talk about the main plot point, as talked about in the blurb so this isn't a spoiler! The "little known concentration camp" that Trevor discovers in the area he is staying was a prison for gay men who were persecuted under General Franco's regime. I really appreciate the learning opportunity that this book has given me. I was so ignorant as to the atrocities that happened under this regime and this book has really encouraged me to research further as I have only just scratched the surface.
The research that the author has done for this book is honestly amazing, as I believe she had to translate a lot of it from Spanish as well! I also liked how she used different place names from around the island and it helped immerse me into the story even more and made me feel like I was there. Additionally, it was really clever of her to parallel Trevor's discovery of these horrors whilst he is struggling with his repressed sexuality. It made for a very poignant and profound read.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the mysteries! From the blurb we're teased with the mysterious prison camp and the strange backpack full of money. However, these are the only the start to all the mysteries that this book has to offer and they are definitely Agatha Christie worthy! Are they all connected? You'll have to read the book to find out.
So I should probably stop myself so I don't accidentally reveal anything! I enjoyed reading this book (and especially loved the short chapters - it's so easy to say "oh just one more!") and if you like books from the mystery genre then I think you will too! Once again, I did receive this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Make sure to keep an eye out for A Prison in the Sun on its release on the 19th November 2019. The book is available at Amazon and you can usually find the author, Isobel Blackthorn, on:
About the Author
Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary ction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey. A Prison in the Sun is her fourth Canary Islands novel.