A Prayer for the Broken by Mark Tilbury #BookReview #BlogTour


They promised the boy he’d be safe – they lied! 
When eleven-year-old John McCormack’s mother is murdered, he is placed in the care of Pastor Ian Stone and his family. Clearwater House is a far cry from the squalid flats he’s been used to, but John soon learns that Pastor Stone’s perverted form of religion is anything but compassionate. As Stone attempts to purify John’s soul of “dangerous levels of toxicity”, it becomes increasingly clear he’s at the mercy of a madman. Who can John talk to when no one wants to listen? Who can he trust when all he knows is betrayal? A Prayer for the Broken is the story of one child’s desperate fight to escape a sadistic killer who has complete control over him. The perfect book for fans of Chris Carter and M.W. Craven.

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for A Prayer for the Broken today. Many thanks to Mark Tilbury for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

I know to expect a dark read when I pick up a Mark Tilbury book but even so, I was taken aback by just how harrowing A Prayer for the Broken is at some points. This is a necessarily hard-hitting novel and some will find it too upsetting to read but I firmly believe that we need fiction that examines uncomfortable truths in order to shine a light in the darkest places.
It's immediately apparent that the home eleven-year-old John McCormack is placed in isn't the sanctuary he deserves - but knowing that life is going to become a living nightmare for him didn't protect me from being shocked and horrified by what occurs here. His new family is headed by Pastor Ian Stone who is the epitome of evil; that religion is used - or rather abused - against vulnerable children isn't new, of course but knowing that extreme faith has been twisted to inflict unimaginable horrors in real life makes A Prayer for the Broken even more distressing.
The novel is narrated by John and he sometimes chillingly foreshadows what is still to come. As he desperately tries to figure out an escape, I found myself dreading what else he would be subjected to. John isn't the only young person in Clearwater House and the friendship that forms between him and his fellow victim, Brendan offers some of the only lighter moments in the story. Despite - or perhaps because of everything they have been through, the bond they develop is truly touching. 
Although I can't help but discuss the dark topics that Mark Tilbury explores so empathetically in this book, it would be remiss of me not to also commend him for his excellent portrayal of teenagers. One of my pet hates in fiction is unrealistic, stereotypical representations of teens  but there's no fear of that criticism being levelled here. John and Brendan are totally believable, both in the way they speak and how they behave. It's heartbreaking to see how mistrustful they have become of adults, causing them to make decisions and take risks which are so obviously going to land them in even more trouble. 
The escalation of violence and emotional abuse becomes almost too horrendous to bear but it doesn't feel gratuitous and as well as acknowledging the exploitation of children in care, Mark Tilbury sensitively explores the circle of abuse without ever excusing it, while also castigating those who ignore the signs. As with some of his previous books, most notably The Key to Death's Door, there is a supernatural element included here and though very subtle, it adds a further layer of suspense and poignancy to the proceedings. John's story is a memorable and important one; powerful, insightful and deeply affecting - A Prayer for the Broken is a compelling psychological thriller. I highly recommend it.

A Prayer for the Broken can be purchased from Amazon UK, where it is also available on Kindle Unlimited or Amazon US.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. After being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused. He's always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had seven novels published by Bloodhound Books. Now self-publishing, Mark has published The Last One To See Her and his most recent book, A Prayer For The Broken. 
When he's not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.