For the residents of Barrows Bay, the very first thing they see, is the old, wrinkled faces of The Midwives, pulling them from the warm safety of the womb. For an unlucky few, the very last thing they see is those same faces, ushering them toward the grave.
True Crime writer, Martin Savage was born on Barrows Bay, his mother, Ruby, is the head Midwife; known not only to Martin as Mother but to all the residents.
Fleeing from an escaped serial killer; a murderer of pregnant women and their unborn children, who was also the subject of one of Martin’s books, Martin and forensic psychologist Sheila Tanner head to the isolation of Barrows Bay, seeking shelter and safety. But perhaps their destination is even stranger and more terrifying than the horror they are seeking to escape?
I’ve reviewed Duncan’s work before, and each title I’ve read I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, however, there is something different about The Midwives.
You see, not only has Duncan once again written a fantastic story, it feels different from his other works somehow
The Midwives is a story that Duncan has been working on for a long time now, in one form or another, ever since he was a teenager. It’s one of those titles that every writer has where they know there’s a story there, but it just doesn’t quite come together, so it gets shelved. Then, years later, they go back to it and if they are lucky, it turns into something wonderful.
Such is the case with The Midwives.
The story grabs you from the start as it opens with a young woman, having just given birth and fleeing with her newborn child from sinister figures that are relentlessly stalking her.
From there, we get introduced to Martin and those around him. The story gently holds your hand and pulls you along, but that friendly grip is a deception. The grip tightens and before you know it you are being dragged along, racing to keep up. For a while, you are allowed to slow down and catch your breath, before the grip tightens once more and you’re dragged headlong into events. When the final act hits, you’re not so much pulled toward it, as you are shoved headfirst into the mayhem.
Basically, once the story has grabbed you, there is no letting go. The pace seems steady at first, a slow build with the omnipresent threat of serial killer Barclay looming here and there to remind you of his presence. But even without that threat, you know there is something very strange going on in Barrows Bay.
Moments of quiet storytelling, suddenly broken by acts of violence, before settling down again, giving the reader time to recover and collect their thoughts until that final act when all the characters collide.
Woom, will most likely always be my favourite title of Duncan’s, but I know it’s not one that I can recommend to everyone. The Midwives though feels like something I can recommend wholeheartedly. Yes, there are moments of violence as well as the omnipresent threat of being stalked by a serial killer and running into danger, as well as away from it. Some of the violence, particularly where it refers to a pregnant woman or a newborn baby may turn a few folks away, and I get that. But it’s never done just for the sake of it. It’s not there explicitly to be shocking, it’s all part of the narrative. So if you can handle that, then get yourself a copy of The Midwives.
I’ve said this near the start, but somehow, The Midwives feels special. Maybe because it’s something that Duncan has been working on since his childhood, or maybe because it truly is a fantastic story.
It’s one of those titles that not just avid horror fans, but those with only a passing interest should pick up and read. Even if your only dip into the ocean of horror fiction is the likes of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Herbert etc. and you’ve never wandered away from those names, you really do need to add this to your reading list.
It sometimes feels cliché to reel off nothing but praise for a title, to give it a 5/5 without any criticism, but sometimes, like now, it’s warranted.
The Midwives is available in both kindle and paperback formats.
You can find it on amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midwives-Gripping-Folk-Horror-Thriller-ebook/dp/B083VZJ7ZB/ref=sr_1_1?