Under Rand Farm by L.J. Denholm 

 January 13, 2023

By  BookishBearx

Hello all! I am back with another review after a little hiatus. I’ve been back at work this week which has been both nice and difficult. It’s been about 4-5 months since I was last at work and it has really tired me out. But around work I have still continued to read review requests and other lovely books, so it is not time for me to catch up on sharing my thoughts about them! Without further a-do… here is my review for Under Rand Farm by L.J. Denholm.

Under Rand Farm is a psychological thriller that has elements of horror throughout the book. It was first published on the 22nd June 2020 and spans 174 pages. There isn’t a synopsis on the Goodreads page that I can copy in, but since this was a review request I will share with you the book description I was sent so you can get an idea of the story line!

Nestled among the rolling hills and forests of upstate Pennsylvania, Rand Farm has belonged to the family since a predatory Henry Rand purchased its sixty acres in the 1960’s, and began to sow his insidious seeds into its soil.

Henry nurtured his crops, his family and his dark secret before falling to a brutal death down the farm cellar’s stone staircase one frozen Christmas Eve.

Following in his father’s footsteps, son Jack inherits the farm and yields to a familial compunction to keep working its land. But continuing to reap Henry’s crops year after year while trying to provide for his wife, Patty, and their son, Sullivan eats at Jack’s soul, mirroring an ongoing decline of the farm’s increasingly desolate fields and barns as they become reclaimed by nature.

As Jack’s efforts to keep his internal rage, guilt and shame buried under Rand Farm, Jack skulks its acres alone. Turns to alcohol. Becomes prone to violent outbursts of temper.

But quiet, unassuming Sullivan, obsessed with Children’s book character Simon the Serpent, may just be the most dangerous Rand of them all, and Sullivan has his own stash of secrets in the farm cellar.

Secrets that bleed…

This book was a very interesting read for me, mainly because it is a book that is different from what I’ve read before. I have read a lot of thrillers in my time, and I haven’t come across anything like this one. I usually go into what happens in the plot in a bit more detail but the description that I have copied in, I feel, is descriptive enough and I don’t want to include spoilers incase you intend to read this book. Also, if you do want to read this book, it is available on Kindle, so you can download it pretty easily.

I’m going to get straight in with my thoughts. The book was well written. I could tell that right from the start. L.J. Denholm’s writing is very clear and precise. He doesn’t babble but get’s to the point. I found the writing style to be rather punchy, I think is the way I’d describe it? You can see what I mean in the description in how he will follow a sentence with a couple of short ones. This writing style does add a degree of intensity and suspense to the text that nicely assists the plot. It does well at pulling you in and capturing your interest.

I found the storyline to be unique and well thought out. It didn’t feel like a carbon copy of a generic, over-done thriller plot that has been done a million times by a million other authors. Which I feel sometimes you find among books. I didn’t get that sense of Deja vu, as if I’ve read this or something similar before. I don’t think I could tell you another book that I could compare this one too, which is definitely a plus. It stands out and I feel like this will make it a book that will easily be remembered by its readers.

I was surprised with how the story’s time line was laid out, we get a prologue of a kidnapping to start the book off. From this I expected the story to jump from “then” and “now” throughout. It doesn’t do that however, it goes back to the start and we travel through the linear timeline of the start of the Rand family all the way to Sullivan being an adult. The book spans 3 generations of the family, Henry, Jack and then Sullivan before coming back to the kidnapping in the end. But I feel like this just adds to the individuality of the book. It makes it stand out even more.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. It is definitely an odd story, with plenty of creepiness and suspense. I will warn that there are references to child abuse, sexual assault and violence and murder, so if any of these topics may be a trigger to you, read with caution. But I found the book interesting and it kept my attention throughout. I would recommend to those who have an interest in horror, thriller or serial killer/crime type books. I feel like you would find this of interest and most likely, truly enjoy reading it.

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