Quote: It’s our nature to deny what frightens us, and it’s not wicked or dull. Isn’t there always a bright, willing part of us that keeps hoping that what we know isn’t true?

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I had mixed feelings about this as I read it. The writing was so authentically bleak, I could almost feel the claustrophobic fog and rain surround me and it was hard to continually return to a book that makes you feel that way.

John Reve’s life as a priest in a backwater town is one of monotonous routine and desperation. The death of the town’s most wealthy man in mysterious circumstances forces Reve to conduct an investigation of sorts into the village’s and his own conscience.

Excellent historical fiction, well written prose, but bleak and grim to read. Maybe this is not a book to read beneath summer sunshine but rather one to savour beside a winter’s fire.


  • While I can understand how this would be a novel that someone would want to read again, I am pretty sure that they would do it in the correct order the second time. I found the backwards mechanics of the narrative difficult to deal with sometimes while reading this.
  • The Western Wind was sold to me as a similar read to Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. If you enjoyed reading that bestseller and wanted to get inside the mind of the lovable pastor William Ransome, this is for you. But be prepared however to encounter the doubt plagued mind of a man in the business of belief.
  • John Reve also reminded me of Brendan Gleeson’s besieged priest in the film Calvary. One of my favourites and one that divides opinion!

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