Colleen and Andrew haven’t had sex in eleven weeks and three days [not that anyone’s counting]. Their marriage is in crisis, they’re drinking too much and both have secrets they’re afraid to share.
A teetotal week in a remote cottage could solve all their problems. But with the promised beach nowhere in sight, a broken-down car and a sinister landlord, they may not find it so easy to rekindle their romance. In this dark and funny novel, tensions build and tempers fray.
I read the blurb and started The Wolf In The Woods with certain expectations, prepared for a novel about the disintegration of a marriage. Indeed, that was true but I found to my delight I had to throw my preconceived ideas out of the window as the way in which Brotzel approached the themes were utterly original
You immediately felt the tension between Colleen and Andrew, the simmering words that lay unsaid below the surface, the car journey the perfect tool for Brotzel to set the scene, the battle lines drawn. The remote cottage set in the woods, the broken down car, the strange owners Wolf and Hildi created a tantalising maelstrom of mystery, but also left me feeling I was stranded in the fairytale Hansel and Gretel. Who was the mysterious Wolf, how did he know so much about Colleen and Andrew?
And what about Colleen and Andrew, a couple with so many issues? I loved how Brotzel made them opposites, Colleen dynamic, bored with Andrew, a life elsewhere never far from her mind. Andrew, stuck in a rut, petrified Colleen would disappear, desperate to reignite his marriage. Brotzel gave them secrets, joint and separate each terrified the other would find out.
And that is what was so clever about Brotzel’s use of Wolf. How did he know what occurred between them, the secrets, the conversations, the torrid alcohol fuelled arguments. He was their conscience, the little voice that niggled in their brains, opened their eyes to the destruction they rained on each other, and made for fascinating and at times tense reading.
There was always an air of menace, the thought that maybe Wolf was some mad axe murderer, his guests his blissfully ignorant victims, and I loved that the author left us guessing, unsure of what his final actions would be.
The truth was perhaps not what I expected but made perfect sense and Willie and Hilda’s secrets were just as intriguing.
Wolf In The Woods was a surprising and uniquely different novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to Brotzel’s next foray into the world of fiction.
I would like to thank Sandstone Press for a copy of The Wolf In The Woods to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Dan Brotzel’s short stories have won awards and been published widely, with Hotel Du Jack, his first full-length collection, published in 2019. He is also co-author of a comic novel-in-emails about an eccentric writers’ group, Work in Progress (Unbound). The Wolf in the Woods is his debut novel.
Dan lives in London with his partner Eve and their three children.