Book Reviews

The Farm – Tom Rob Smith

Villains are real. They walk among us. You can find them any street, in any community, in any home – on any farm. 

What is a villain? They’re people who will stop at nothing in the pursuit of their desires. I know of no other word for the man I have in mind. 

In this satchel is some evidence I’ve collected over the summer. There was more but this was all I could smuggle out of Sweden in such a rush. It makes sense to address each article of evidence in chronological order, starting with this – 

Tom Rob Smith’s ‘The Farm’ was a book I came across in Waterstones without having heard about it before. The cover intrigued me as did the beautiful red edging to each page. And then I read the blurb which lead me know that this book was my kind of thing.

The plot is centred around the character, Daniel, who’s parents recently retired to Sweden, his mother’s homeland. On one seemingly ordinary day, Daniel gets a phone call from his father to be told that his mother isn’t very well and “she’s been imagining things – terrible terrible things”. We soon learn that his father admitted his mother to a mental institution and Daniel packs his things to visit her. 

At the airport however, Daniel receives a further call. This one from his mother. She claims that “everything that man has told you is a lie,” and that she is also on her way from Sweden to London to explain everything. 

I would like to agree with the sentiment lay down by Mark Billingham, on the cover, that ‘You will not read a better thriller this year”- although I’m not entirely sure considering it’s still early in 2015 by all standards. However the story is incredibly exciting. It’s fast paced and everything I read kept me wanting to read ahead. I genuinely considered staying up all night to finish reading this book. 

In addition to this I found that the pace was maintained through the lack of actual chapters. I kept reading and found I couldn’t actually find a good place to put the book down and go and do things; and when I did I found my mind wandering back to characters and what I thought about the plot. 

‘The Farm’ is an incredibly thought provoking novel. It can be read in three different ways, and I’m sure there are others I haven’t thought about. You can read it from Daniel’s preferred stance of neutrality. Reading it this way, until you get to the end, you can’t make a judgement on his mother’s sanity. Or you can read it from the view of his father that it is all in his mother’s head or from his mother’s point of view, that everything that is being said is hard fact. It does bring into question how much we rely on evidence and seeing things for ourselves. It also blurs these delicate lines between what we know to be fact and fiction as some of Tilde’s recollections seem almost so out of this world that they couldn’t possibly be made up. 

This novel took me around 7 hours to read over two days. I found that once I had picked it up, it was incredibly difficult to put down. The story is gripping from the get go and the pace does not let go of you, running, until you’ve turned that very last page. 

Total pages – 351

Total read time – 7 hours

Rating /10 – 8.5

Recommend – Definite yes

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