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Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew ★★★★★

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Published: 17th October 2019 Publisher: Bloomsbury publishing

Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback, Audio Genre: Thriller

Four elements. Four seasons. Four points on the compass. Four teenage girls. And one dead body.

Welcome to the unspoilt island of Lark. An isolated and deeply religious community. A crucible for rumour and suspicion, Lies and Deceit. And murder.    

MY REVIEW - It has taken me quite a lot of time to think over this review as I did not want to give any spoilers, but also wanted to make sure I could convey how amazingly written this book is, but it’s also extremely complex and so hugely detailed in so many ways, it took me a little while to get into the swing of the ‘Now and Then’ and the religious side of it, but once I did I was hooked!     The story is told over the space of one year, and from mainly two different perspectives, Leah, a teacher and Viola a 'coycrock' [newcomer] to the Island.

Viola and her mother move to Lark after a family tragedy has crippled them, a religious, safe community that is isolated from modern society to escape a tragedy on the mainland. Cut off from the mainland for seven months, surrounded by a dense fog the island promises a safe, religious home...

Once there Viola soon realises the island is not what it seems, steeped in magical history and rituals, something isn’t quite right.

The men consider themselves higher and that women are beneath them, only allowing females in the local pub on a weekend, banned during the week and only specific jobs are allowed to the women.

When girls reach a certain age they are medically checked by the local doctor to make sure they are ready for adulthood... the island, on paper seems perfect, but why then do people leave? there are only two boats a year, the April boat and the August boat, bringing supplies and new comers.

The rest of the Time the island is surrounded by a thick fog with no means of travel on or off.

Viola's mother refuses to allow her to attend the school, St Ritas, insisting that she can be home schooled by herself instead as a way to keep her close and safe but as her mother sinks lower and lower into depression, still grieving from the tragedy that swayed them back home Viola starts to feel like she can not breath, if it wasn't for her pet dog she would feel completely isolated and alone, but this also causes controversy as no one keeps dogs as pets [ familiars] on the island so Violas pet is looked at with disdain and therefore can not be left alone.

Viola comes across Michael one night walking her dog across the hills behind her home, a boy from the local school. He seems friendly, if not a Little to chatty but as he is the only one that seems to talk to her instead of looking at her like a stranger. She amuses him by allowing him to walk with her, He tells her he has came to spy on the eldest girls from St Ritas, who are at the magical sister stones, chanting, he wants to watch and see what they get up to, but from a distance as boys and men are not allowed to enter the sister stones for fear of raising a terrible fury.

The girls, one brown hair, one black hair, and one blonde hair all spend their time in the hills performing rituals and fantasizing about sex. Unlike the black hair of the Lark natives, Viola’s striking red hair makes her the perfect four to there group. She longs to be accepted by the elders, and eventually is. Viola gets to know the girls and finds out the horror that has lead these girls to try and summon magic and stop the darkness that is spreading throughout the island that no one talks about and everyone turns a blind eye from.

Now symbolising the four elements, Earth, Wind, Air and fire, North, South, East and west the girls start to chant rituals and spells, trying to enchant the goddess to help avenge them and there friend before them who committed suicide the year before, before they are drawn to the same fate.

There first spell works and they realise together, within the sister stones, the four of them have power, they feel it within the earth and feel stronger when together...


Leah is a teacher at St Ritas school, a native Larkian she was raised on the island with her parents and her brother. Leah has jet black hair, this is considered extremely lucky. Her brother moved off the island a few years ago and her father sits on the council. Everything is normal until Leah visits her neighbour who practices magic and reads her cards..

Men are in short supply on Lark and She explains that a man is coming for her on the August boat.

True to her word, Ben Hailey arrives and is appointed the new science teacher at the school.

The pair instantly connect and fall in love, but the eldest girls also fall for Mr Hailey and before long he is taking the girls on science experiments and getting asked questions by the girls that they should not be asking there new male teacher.

It isn't until a tragedy happens and the girls start acting strange that Leah realises something is wrong.

Before she realises it Leah is caught up between the eldest girls, Viola and Ben..

Lies, deception and a shocking truth are spilling out all around them and only the girls can finish what they have started... to make the people of Lark wake up and remove the beam from there eyes as to what has been going on all this time.

Completely disorientating, this is a claustrophobic story of outsiders versus insiders, religious passions versus age old paganism and, ultimately, women versus powerful men.

I loved Viola’s character, she is a strong girl who will not allow anyone or anything to get in the way of what’s right, regardless of the lies she has to tell and the acts she has to commit to get there!

I was disgusted with the men in this story, like all stories and facts about the past and how women were thought of less then or beneath men, this Is portrayed so well and how the women all gather behind there backs to create a sisterhood was very empowering.

This is a powerful story with a heart wrenching twist. ★★★★★

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Julie Mayhew has written plays for radio and the stage and is the author of Red Ink and The Big Lie.

She is also the cofounder and host of a short-story cabaret and the head of a writers' workshop.

Julie Mayhew lives in the United Kingdom.

Connect with the Author..



Other books by this Author..

The Big Lie

The Electrical Venus

Mother Tongue

Red Ink

Similar Reads...

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The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy

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