‘The Tests’ by Robert W. Kirby is a tense psychological thriller. When Alex Clayton loses his mother he is adrift and looking to find himself some new friends and escape a school life of bullying. But the interesting group he chooses has an initiation in order to be a part of the gang. Years later, the initiation and his time with this group come back to haunt him and Alex’s only solution to end his insomnia and nightmares is to gather the gang and work out what happened. Flipping between each group member, the present and the past the reader is taken on a twisting and turning ride that doesn’t give you much time to find your feet, let alone work out what secrets are going to be revealed. Each flash to the past entices you to read on, to work out which event exactly is at the source of Alex’s search for the truth. Each change of character allows you to know more about the whole group of friends, allowing them to have their own developed story and dimension. Gripping and brutal this is a story that I couldn't put down, a rollercoaster ride for anyone looking for a thrill.
Robert W Kirby, author
At the start of the summer of ‘88, Alex Clayton was desperate to find his place in the world. Constantly bullied and reeling from the recent loss of his mum, he sought friendship from local girl Sheryl Denton, and her colourful group of friends, Ben, Janette, Corkscrew and Gavin. But to join their group, Alex first needed to undertake four notorious initiation trials, known as the tests. That year changed everything for Alex and shaped his entire life. The events that unfolded during that long summer would haunt the group forever. Now, over three decades later, and living in Edinburgh, with his wife, Natalie, Alex’s past jeopardises his marriage when he has memory dreams that are so intense, that Natalie becomes concerned her husband is hiding a secret about his childhood. Alex arranges a reunion with the old group, and travels back to his hometown in Kent, to piece together the events of ‘88. He must face his past, and face Gavin, who is a tormented soul, with nothing to lose. Gavin harbours a deep hatred for Alex and holds him responsible for a tragedy that occurred when they were kids. Whilst Alex searches for answers, so too does Natalie, as she becomes hellbent on finding out what her husband is hiding. As Alex and the group revisit moments from their past, dark secrets come to light, old feuds reignite, and things spiral out of control. It soon becomes clear that everything may not have happened as Alex remembered, and the truth about what happened will lead to total devastation for all those involved.
Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador