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** My thanks to Orenda Books and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

Description:

A mesmerising debut novel with echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism…

‘If Armistead Maupin were to write about a diverse group of friends in Deptford, the results might resemble this … You’ll miss these characters when they’re gone’ Paul Burston

Under their feet lies magic…

When Sam falls in love with South London thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, the mysterious world that lies beneath their feet and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

My Thoughts:

Attend is a beautifully written book that has a depth of characterisation that enables readers to form a deep and tangible connection with the main characters, especially Anne and Sam.
Both of these wonderful creations are linked by a thread that neither is aware of, the bond of friendship with Deborah. Deborah is a seemingly innocuous character, regularly regaling her new friends with tales of her life, how she came to be a seamstress and sailor, the events of her life up to that point and how she thinks that there’s something more to life, more than the eye can see. She is a character that’s hard to sum up in a few sentences, so exquisitely complex and with a history that draws the readers in, makes them need to know more about her. I don’t think I could do justice to this marvellous creation and I applaud the author for crafting such an array of personalities.

Anne was a character that I wasn’t sure what to make of initially. There’s a rawness and a vulnerability to her, her previous life as a drug user has impacted on her ability to interact with her family and loved ones. The dependency on illicit substances robbed her of many things, and trying to rebuild her life and the trust of others is a difficult and arduous struggle. Watching her find her feet through the prose was almost heartwarming at times, seeing her making decisions and reaffirming that her dependency on drugs was over made me want to cheer for her. This is a character that you really get under the skin of, the more you read about her, the greater the connection and the understanding you gain of events that have occurred.

The youngest of the main characters, is Sam. He moved to London as a means of taking control of his life, leaving the sadness of an accident from his youth behind. Having accepted his sexuality, he breaks away from a cycle of meaningless interactions when he meets Derek. Sam’s indecisive nature makes him quite an endearing character, he’s been on a path of self destruct for sometime but slowly he manages to make changes, he finds happiness and acceptance.

The threads of the story twist and weave expertly in West’s capable hands as he takes readers on a poignant and thought provoking journey.  As you may guess, characterisation was a key aspect of this book for me, I felt that I was connected, invested and genuinely cared about these characters.

Settings play an enormous part in any story, and here the way that the tunnels Deborah explored almost came alive. The smells, the damp, the darkness all became so real through the vivid descriptions. The same can be said for the details woven into the house that Deborah lives in, the unique and quirkiness of it appealed to me .
I think it’s fair to say that West Camel has really crafted a very special story, he has managed to combine a very human tale with touches of magic, adventure, history and charm. The writing is spellbinding and leave readers hungry for more.

Orenda Books are fast becoming known for publishing books that push new ideas, that challenge readers and go that bit further, and Attend is definitely one of those books. It’s a rare gem that I think will keep circling round and round in my head long after I finished reading it.


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