Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Search for Ethan By Robert Cowan - Reviewed by Robert Southworth

Luckily for us, the author is offering 2 ebook copies of The Search for Ethan to be drawn on the Sunday 3rd of January. Just leave a comment on the blog below or on our Facebook page.

Robert Southworth! I hear you cry, how can it be that you are reviewing a book that has neither a musket nor toga in sight?  Well the clue is in the blurb…
'A gritty contemporary drama, brimming with dark humour. Two typical teenage lives are transformed after a night of hallucinogenic experimentation, when the subsequent bad trip spills into their real lives with tragic consequences. A desperate but comically bizarre search for redemption begins, with help from an unlikely source.'
   I have to admit, that dark humour is a weakness of mine.  However, enough of my weaknesses, and onto the novel. The Search for Ethan is a modern tale, indeed many of us could recognise many of the characters from our hometown or even dare I say it, out own family. The book itself has a number of main characters and switches to and fro between each of their points of views as varying catastrophes erupt. It’s an interesting style of writing, one of which I have never been a great fan but I have to admit, that within this novel it really works and only serves to enhance the storyline. A point on the storyline, this book does not throw you headlong into it straight away. For me, and others may think differently it places the characters first, as a grand master positions his chess pieces before moving in for check mate. This being the case, a reader may ask, well the writing’s brilliant, the characters a joy but where is the story? Trust me, just as you are thinking this, the novel shifts up a gear, and the tale erupts from the pages.
   Now I feel I have to discuss the characters. I have no hesitation in declaring this book my favourite of 2015 when it comes to the creation of characters. Vibrant and colourful in terms of the people themselves and the language used they are a triumph for the writer and a joy for the reader to experience. My personal favourite is Margo,  mother of one of the main characters. Everything about her should make you squirm and cause an instant dislike but in truth in many ways I see her as a hero of the book, others may see it differently. Here we have a quote from the book as Margo searches for the man who has led her son astray (warning strong language).
 “Fuck! What!?What?”
“Where the fuck is Ian dick head?!”
“I don’t fucking know do I.”
Margo began opening drawers until she found what she was looking for. Weasel’s breath abruptly stopped as the blade made contact with the base of his already tender penis.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck…” muttered Weasel dementedly.
“Oh fuck indeed…” replied Margo with the calmness of the end game and certain victory.
As you can see this is not a children’s book. That said, the language is colourful but in keeping with the characters and storyline. The novel addresses complex issues with sensitivity and dark humour, and a great deal of skill by the author. There are no good and bad guys as such, but as in real life most of the characters are capable of positive and negative acts in equal measure, and sometimes great stupidity.
“You’ve killed him,” she whispered.
“Indeed I have,” he replied, his voice tinged with pride.
“Oh my God, what have you done?”
“Eh? Saved your life that’s what I’ve done. I’m a fucking hero.”
The girl started screaming and Stevie heroically, punched her in the mouth…
To summarize I would say the book is something different, and hard to categorize in its approach to the telling of a story. The reader is at the same time mesmerised, delighted and repulsed by the behaviour of some of its main protagonists. As my reviewing is set to come to end for this year, I have no hesitation in declaring this book by Robert Cowan, has been my favourite read of 2015. Its unusual style and brilliant characters have been a joy, and an education for a fellow writer.

About the Author

Robert Cowan lives in a small town in Scotland with his family and a couple of cats. He has always had a love for music and whilst studying for a degree in mechanical engineering bought a drum kit. Despite not making it in the music business the author continued to want to express himself and turned to writing. The Search For Ethan is his debut. A second novel 'Daydreams and Devils' has also been recently published.

You can learn more at

Robert Southworth is the author of his Spartacus novels.  Robert can be found on 


  1. I'd love to win a copy of this, I'm won over by this review! Cheers Robert!

  2. Great review. Another book for my ever growing reading list!

  3. Great review. Another book for my ever growing reading list!

  4. Sounds like its quite a different sort of read

  5. Great review.

  6. This sounds so different I would love to read it! As a person who also has dark humour, I love a writer who's not afraid to use it. Or the language as I believe there's always a place for it in a story somewhere. And this review gets the gist of the book straight to you :-)

  7. I'd love a copy of this. Is it restricted to UK residents?