“Penn’s Woodland” by David Connor
Synopsis: Years ago, Penn’s lover was attacked in the woods, and most think Penn is to blame—including Penn. Ever since, he’s been a prisoner in his home and his mind. When world renowned architect Ewan Parish arrives to construct a secure, enclosed walkway through those woods, Penn is surprised, suspicious, and also fearful.
Ewan finds himself intrigued by the mysterious, reclusive Penn, his journals, and the beautiful artwork he’s drawn, which Ewan recreates in iron scrollwork. Determined to free Penn, Ewan sets out to unravel the mystery that has resulted in Penn’s imprisonment by his family and conscience all these years…
2 out of 5 stars
I gave this 2 stars because I made myself finish it.
The premise of this story is original – a man may have committed a terrible crime that left his lover dead. Since then he has been a literal prisoner in one room of his home, cared for by his much older sister. The sister decides, on a whim it seems, to build Penn, our main character, a wrought iron enclosed walkway into the woods so that he can get some fresh air and sunshine. Ewan is hired to build the walkway.
Several things are wrong right off the bat. If Penn is kept under lock and key, to the point his sister delivers his meals through a locked panel, why would she decide to build him this walkway? He is terrified of the woods since the attack – why would he want to leave the safety of his room when everyone tells him how dangerous he is and how he can never leave?
Ewan is a caricature, not a real character. When leaving Paris to come build this walkway, he leaves his fiance behind as well, making it quite obvious that he doesn’t love her. The language is so stilted that it’s honestly hard not to laugh as it feels like a dramatic scene from a soap opera.
When Penn and Ewan meet through a partially bricked up, broken window Penn is overcome. Again the language comes into play as Ewan tells him later that he found evidence of Penn’s “manly essence” on the paper on the floor. I don’t mind sex in any story and a good sex scene in my mind adds a lot to a story. This isn’t well done and the instant-love that Ewan feels for Penn is a little off.
I didn’t enjoy this story and I’m hoping it’s because I’m not the target audience. I wanted to like it but feel it could really benefit from a brutally honest editor.
ARC from NetGalley