Book Review: The Golden Orphans by @GaryRaymond_ #blogtour @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Welcome to my stop on The Golden Orphans blog tour! Thanks to Damp Pebbles for the invite, I’m delighted to be taking part!

What’s it about?

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.



My thoughts

This book wasn’t at all what I expected; I genuinely thought I was going to get a murder mystery whodunnit novel…oops.  What I did get was a dramatic, intense, darker tale set in one of the most beautiful locations.

Our unnamed narrator is an ordinary chap who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances; commissioned to paint dreams, mixing with Russian gangsters (I think) and all sorts of other unsavoury characters.  I didn’t really get Illie’s desire to have his dreams painted, and I do appreciate sometimes you don’t have to get it but I do think with his contacts and financial resources he could have achieved the same result in an alternative way (but hey ho there’s the plot!).  I’m also not sure why our main character isn’t named.  But to be honest, I felt the same with Rebecca – someone please give me an idea why.  I don’t know if this added anything to the story or detracted.

Having visited Cyprus many years ago, I enjoyed the historical aspects surrounding Famagusta and the Turkish invasion.  I would have liked some more of this as I really enjoyed the parts that were set here.

This book is described as a “literary thriller” and I can see why.  This doesn’t feel like or read like a run of the mill suspense novel, it says to me I’m influenced by the likes of Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith.  Whereby, it makes me as a reader feel like I don’t always understand or ‘get’ what I’m reading, but it doesn’t mean I’ve not liked what I’ve read.  It’s a different kind of clever read, often poetic.

For a relatively short book I don’t think you’ll come away feeling short-changed but maybe, as I did, a feeling that some parts could have been explored a little deeper.  Overall, a slow and descriptive build-up to a dramatic and climatic end!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

About the author Gary Raymond

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

Author links: Twitter | Facebook

Small print for info
Source: Publisher via Blog Tour
Publisher: Parthian Books