Reservoir 13

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Published by Fourth Estate
Expected publication 6 April 2017
336 pages

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NETI was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.


From the award-winning author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Even the Dogs, Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss.

Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.

Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.

As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.

Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.

An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.


They gathered at the car park in the hour before dawn and waited to be told what to do.


I had a good time reading Reservoir 13. There’s something I really like about the narrative style used in the book, sort of an omnipotent point of view allowing vivid descriptions of the world the characters inhabit as well as intimate details about the characters. This style reminds me of the only other novel I’ve read by the author, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things. I enjoyed the way the novel is structured; there are no chapters but the novel is split into little vignettes of different lengths which focus on a particular character or event. Reservoir 13 addresses a lot of big issues revolving around the cycle of life and death and is quite poignant at times. I found the book very sad at times, especially when the passage of time is marked by saying how old the missing girl would have been. It took me ages to read this book, not because it’s a bad book but because it’s the kind of book that needs to be read slowly so the rich, vivid detail can be absorbed and savoured.




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