Book Review: The Farm // Tom Rob Smith

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Everywhere you look for books nowadays, whether it be online, the app store or a good old-fashioned book shop, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a book that’s, well, remotely interesting. New novels have become very similar and tediously so. However, The Farm presents to us a refreshing new thriller which should be a literary triumph.

The thriller, it should be noted, is hardly revolutionary. Smith follows the structure of other psychological thrillers almost to the letter. For example, an isolated village, the disappearance of a young woman and the secret investigation by a woman whose sanity is in question. However, what makes this book so new and refreshing is the premise that the author presents.

Daniel, whose parents left London for their early retirement in Sweden, suddenly receives a call from his dad explaining the sudden mental instability of his beloved mother Tilde. He then receives a second call from his mother declaring her sanity and accusing her husband of lying. Daniel must choose between believing his mother or his father. Throughout the book Daniel, and the reader, are witness to Tilde’s chilling tale of her time in Sweden in definite detail. We are left with the constant thought in the back of our minds – has she gone mad? Who do we believe? And it is this factor that really makes this book so enticing.

Smith, the critically acclaimed author of Child 44, perfectly sets and creates an atmosphere through his subtle and emotive observations; he manages to transform the serenity and peace of the Swedish countryside into a focal point of sinister and unexplained activity. The characters and the plot are utterly sublime.

The same cannot be said, however, for the ending. Through the twist and turns of this story the pace builds, chapter by chapter. The eagerness of the reader to find out the truth grows, leaving the reader to rush to the end to find answers. The revealing of secrets is quite an… anti-climax. I find that what happens to the characters is very boring. I understand that in the genre of psychological thrillers that the plot must reach a rational end and whatever but I would think a best-selling author could create a more thought-provoking and enthralling ending. It left me with an overall feeling of sadness that I had wasted my time reading it.

Nevertheless, the book is simply enrapturing and is worth the read. However. if you wish to have an untainted view on the book, the plot, the characters, then read the last chapter with an open mind. Overall, another brilliantly imaginative thriller by another skilled writer.

Words by Joe Lewin

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