The Bellwether Revivals is the first book of young author Benjamin Wood. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award in 2012 and sold in several countries including the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. The book tells an interesting story of Oscar Lowe and his experiences with the Bellwether family. Following a flighty romance with Iris Bellwether, Oscar finds himself pulled into a Cambridge University social group and society of wealth. He meets a trove full of interesting characters including Eden, whose relationship with his sister is shrouded in mystery. Oscar finds himself in a whole new world, compelled into discovering the secrets surrounding the Bellwether family. Benjamin wood works characters well and his novel is fuelled by it. You grow to understand Oscar and make his journey with him. The relationships between Oscar and other characters are well constructed and expressed, including his relationship with patient Abraham Paulson that is both intimate and touching.
The story is fairly slowly paced and the character interactions, while detailed, can slow down the piece. It feels through a large part of the book that more needs to be happening. We’d get to know Oscar even more if there were more scenes that were less ‘day-to-day’. However, the scenes we are given are devoted to the build-up of other characters, which is worth it in the long haul. The character Eden Bellwether is extremely interesting and becomes almost the focus of the novel. We learn a lot of background information about both him and his sister Iris, which help to strengthen the plot, while the topic of psychology and psychological disorders is beautifully weaved in. The last half of the book, with the introduction of Dr Crest, is by far the best: where the plot truly gets to work.
The only thing that let the book down was the climax. While the idea was good, the main characters got involved in the scene way too late. By that time the action was already over. It was like you’d gone for a toilet break in an action movie, missed the boss battle but caught the after-effects. The character reactions were effective generally but you couldn’t help but feel something had been missed. However, overall the novel was a good read and I’m looking forward to his next book, which is due to be published by Simon and Schuster publishers in 2014.
For more information on the author, Benjamin Wood, check out his website at: http://www.benjamin-wood.com/