Review: “A Prayer for the Broken” by Mark Tilbury

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sinister, twisted, gut-wrenching, yet an utterly compelling read.”

About the Book

“A Prayer for the Broken” by Mark Tilbury

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.

My Review

Sinister, twisted, yet an utterly compelling read, “A Prayer for the Broken” by Mark Tilbury is a darker-than-dark psychological fiction masterpiece. So vividly written, you’ll love and hate it at the same time. Child abuse and hints of sexual abuse dominate parts of the book, so be warned before you start.

Eleven year old John is placed in foster care after his mother’s murder. Up until that point, his short life is a tale of hard luck, but also full of love. His mother lived in a questionable lifestyle that left them in poverty, but she was always good to her son. Immediately after her death, the Johnson family took him in as their foster child. They showered with him the affection he needed, but the placement was only temporary. It’s the memories from his past life that he’ll cling to as much as he does his own survival when social services permanently places him at Clearwater House with Pastor Ian Stone and his family.

Pastor Ian Stone is loved and respected by social services and the community. He, his wife, and young adult son are pillars of the church — and of society. John joins another boy, Brendan, as their foster son. Appearances are deceiving, however. Religious extremism and the failure of social services kicks into high gear as soon as the story begins. Upon his arrival, John is starved, frozen, and physically assaulted. But the abuse and torture he’ll receive at the hands of the pastor and his son are just starting. It’s soon clear the only way out of Clearwater House is death, and his foster family is more than happy to indulge both he and Brendan in the cruelest, least merciful ways possible… in the name of religion and their god.

Most of the violence committed against John and Brendan is off-page, but that doesn’t make it any less hard to read or heartbreaking. The descriptions leading up to the most horrific acts are horrific enough in themselves to make you want to look the other way. Yet, you can’t. John’s an innocent child, full of the ‘smarts’ he’ll need for survival — and full of hope too, even when he comes to believe there’s none. You have to see it through. For John. You have to finish the book. For John. Author Mark Tilbury is brilliant at creating dark stories that make you cringe, but also innocent, lovable characters that compel you to deliver them safely to the end.

“A Prayer for the Broken” by Mark Tilbury is as tense as it is intense. It’s hard to read simply because the abuse in the book is being inflicted on children. But that doesn’t mean the book isn’t engrossing. Or good. It’s definitely both. It’ll fill you with anguish and dread. It’ll become more twisted the further you read. Yet, by the conclusion, good overcomes evil, at least to a degree. I prefer most of the psychological fiction I read to end as twisted as it began, but I don’t know if I’d ever have recovered if it had been the case this time.

Thank you to Mark Tilbury for a complimentary digital copy of “A Prayer for the Broken” in exchange for an honest review.

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. “A Prayer for the Broken” is his latest novel.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.