Broken, by A E Rought

  • TITLE: Broken
  • AUTHOR: A E Rought
  • PUBLISHER: Strange Chemistry
  • PUBLICATION DATE:  3rd January 2013 (UK)

Broken-144dpiBroken is not what I was expecting.

From the cover and the comments surrounding the book, I expected something a little girlie for my tastes (being a guy and liking YA fantasy… sometimes, it is wall-to-wall girls and love triangles…). I expected romance, romance, romance. This is not what Broken is about. Broken is about so, so much more than just a love story.

Guys: if you don’t like romance to dominate your reading and have looked at the cover/blurb and thought “hmm…”, don’t disregard Broken just yet. Girls: if you’re just as sick of romance and love triangles and girls constantly torn between suitors and you’ve seen the cover and the comments and are unsure, don’t disregard Broken just yet.

Broken is a gorgeous, Gothic romance fantasy horror. And it really is all those things. It’s not scary as much as it is creepy and disturbing, but other than ghosts, that’s just my kind of horror, so I’m there. It is fantastic to see a book claim to be a horror hybrid in fantasy and actually bring it to the table.

As for the romance? Well, Broken is a book that would fall apart without it; a perfect echo of the hearts and minds of the main characters. It is a beautifully written story that doesn’t disregard the concept of love as being cheap. Moreover, it does not imply that teenagers and young adults “don’t know what love is”. Anyone who has felt their heart skip a beat or muddled their words or been inexplicably drawn towards someone knows what love is.

Emma felt that way about Daniel. Even after he died.

Since then, Emma has been a hollow shell, moving mechanically through life as she nurses her broken heart. It’s not only her heart that’s broken.

It doesn’t beat for me.”

Alex is new to the school and as mysterious as they come. Rumours abound and despite herself, Emma just can’t keep away. She’s drawn to him like a moth to flame and Alex is plenty hot: he’s engaging, enigmatic and, as Emma gets to know him, so hopelessly and utterly like Daniel. At first it’s the little things: he opens her locker and knows her nickname. But when Alex shows a different side of himself and Emma sees the silver scars that crisscross his pale skin, she begins to suspect he might also be dangerous.

Nevertheless, Emma cannot pull away. Since Alex came to school she’s felt herself emerge from the shell of grief and move forwards, even if just a step. Everyone thinks Alex is hot, or bad news. The girls at school want him and Emma bears the brunt of their jealousy. She’s a whore, heartless, a bitch; anything they can think of. Her mother hates him already. But Emma doesn’t care. She feels whole again however wrong her head tells her that is. When she begins to realise that Alex stops her missing Daniel, because he is so like him, she grows concerned.

She need not bother. All the concern in the world won’t change what’s been done.
As events spiral out of Emma’s control and she delves deeper, unable to let the questions remain unanswered, she and Alex discover a dark secret that turns Emma’s blood cold. With nobody to turn to besides her best friend Bree and with the constant harassment of Daniel’s former best friend—the only other person present that night when Daniel fell to his death—Josh, Emma needs to discover Alex’s secrets and just why, even after one meeting, his father hated her enough to hurt her.

She needs to know why Daniel died.

Broken is a gripping, beautiful read that draws on classic elements of the Gothic and transforms a classic story into an engaging fantasy horror. It is atmospheric and written in such a way that you feel everything: Emma and Alex feel real as you turn the pages.  From a YA perspective this book has everything. It understands the sudden and irrational attraction to someone you’ve never met and don’t know. It understands that parents can’t fix everything and sometimes they don’t or can’t listen. It understands that just because you love your mother or father doesn’t mean they are always right. Messages like this are important. Messages like this help you find out who you are.

Emma is an interesting protagonist who has a broken heart. Sometimes young people hurt and merely being young does not lessen that pain. Broken is multi-layered and inviting. It has a great deal to offer. Simply because of the cover I would have overlooked it. As it happens, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

It was compelling and gripping and definitely one not to judge by its cover. Rought has crafted a strong and romantic story that is as much fantasy as it is horror: it’s a unique, bold novel that delivers from the first word to the last.

An utter masterpiece of cross-genre storytelling.


To ease the wait until the release of Broken, why not check out the book trailer to whet your appetite?


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