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Book Review: ‘The Mating Habit of Stags’ by Ray Robinson

Title: The Mating Habit of Stags

Author: Ray Robinson

Length: 222 pages

Publisher: Lighting Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

With such an intriguing synopsis, I was excited to read this book and I have to be honest and say I bumped it up my TBR.

Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence. On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news of his crime. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door?

Oh this book. It’s short but it sure does pack a punch.

This book was so wonderfully intimate. Mainly due to the fact of its two main characters Jake and Shelia. They were fantastic. The first part of the novel is told from the perspective of Jake. He’s on the run for murder. While obviously that’s a big part of his story, to me it was his grief, his loss and his sorrow that stood out. You could feel his sorrow in the writing. He’s still coming to terms with losing his wife, the life that was never truly his and now he’s lost his friendship with Shelia. As for Shelia, who’s perspective we see in the second half, she is also now coming to terms with what her friend has done, and why. It’s so interesting reading her still care about him, whilst be heartbroken by his actions. The friendship between them so real, it was beautiful to read. It was full of respect and admiration. You could feel it.

For me, this book had three main characters, the third being the lush English countryside. It felt like such a presence in the book. It was a vast and expansive place that Jake could travel miles in to run away, yet it also felt small and intimate so Jake could hide in it. He could be protected by it. With it’s beautiful descriptions and vivid imagery, it felt like I was in the countryside when reading it. What a testament to Roy Robinson’s writing. The description were so evocative and atmospheric. It’s one of the highlights of the novel for me.

You know, this is one of those books that gets under your skin. It made me think what would I do if my best friend committed this crime and showed up at my door. I often found myself, at work, thinking of Jake, as if this was a real news story. It’s only special books that can make you do that.

I can’t recommend this book enough. This book was a tale of friendship, that just captures the heart of two lives intertwined perfectly. It’s a book that’s full of heart and wonderful descriptions and one you don’t want to miss.

This book is out now and I have to thank Lightning Books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Until the next review.

JTH

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