I received this book for free from Not Just Any Book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Returned by Jason Mott | Book ReviewThe Returned by Jason Mott
Series: The Returned #1
Published by Harlequin MIRA on August 27th 2013
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Not Just Any Book

Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time ... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.


Wow… This is quite the book. I’m sitting here a few minutes after finishing it trying to construct my review, finding that it isn’t really easy to do so. It has been quite a while since I picked up a book that managed to get under my skin like this. This is a good book above all! But I’m having trouble explaining the reasons behind that statement.

I do love a book that has me thinking! My thoughts are all over the place, so I’m just going to tell you about the stages I went through while reading this book.

The first few chapters confused me as much as the Hargrave’s. Just imagine losing someone you’d loved very much, for that person to be standing on your porch 50 years later, very much alive and not a day older than the day they’d died. That’s bound to be hard on a person and the Hargrave’s try very much to come to terms with it, above everything they don’t know what to think and they’re confused. As was I.

The confusion spread all around the world and everywhere people don’t know what to think. They are at crossroads, some thinking it is a miracle and embracing it with both arms, others seem to think it is the beginning of the end and react violently. The confusion I understood. I just don’t understand the way people react to something unknown to them. It just seems unrealistic to me how society decides that the solution is to react with violence and even murder.

At that point I grew angry with people for reacting badly, for reacting with violence. While at the same time asking myself the big “What would I do” question. I found myself lingering on all the different directions to look at, I tried to figure out where I placed myself, what I would do in this situation, I looked at all the different truths and in the end it all lead back to confusion. People can’t make up their minds because they are so confused and ultimately the result is chaos.

Mott has a way with establishing characters, whether they appear as a brief fragment or throughout the entire novel. It was easy to connect with the characters and nearing the end of this book, I found my respect for the Hargrave family to be growing. As for why my respect grew I will not tell you. I want you to have the chance to read it yourselves and form your own opinion. Maybe you’ll agree with me and maybe not, but that will be up to you!

This book isn’t a particularly easy read, there’s an edge of menace threaded throughout the book carries you through to the shattering end.  I put the book down every now and then, just to get a breather before picking it up again and while the ending left me with lots of questions, questions I’ve had since the very first chapters that haven’t been answered, I found it kind of fitting in a way.

It’s a story that has you think about humanity in all of its forms, both beautiful and ugly. It’s a story that’s going to stay with me for quite a while.