Book review: An Ideal Retreat – Mike Griffin


Released as a chap book through Dim Shores, ‘An Ideal Retreat’ is a wonderful, slow-burning story centring around Noone Radox. A woman escaping her mundane marriage to her husband, Ian, she drives up to the family retreat – supposedly an old, rundown shack. When Noone arrives however, the shack has undergone something of a transformation. It now resembles a stunningly picturesque house, filled with all of life’s little comforts, everything her heart desires.

‘An Ideal Retreat’ looks at the difference between fiction and reality. Has Noone popped a few too many pills, or drank a few too many glasses of wine that she is hallucinating all that she sees? We never really get to find out and it’s down to Griffin’s clever storytelling that we can’t help but keep turning the pages wondering what she might encounter next. Is her dream about to be shattered, unveiling the true nature of where she is? As Noone continues to explore, she finds more and more things to her satisfaction. Is the home an imaginary place she would much rather be, where everything is perfect? It certainly seems to be the exact opposite of her current relationship with Ian.

‘An Ideal Retreat’ is really quite superb. Griffin’s voice is what makes this story steer well clear of being self-indulgent and meandering off into the mundane. In Noone Raddox, Griffin has created a very human character, though quite unreliable as a narrator, she is intriguing and thoughtful, yet not without her flaws due to her growing dependency on pills and booze. The “retreat” seems to be some sort of metaphor for how she wishes her life was like and I had a clear picture of what the building looks like thanks to Griffin’s excellent descriptions and the superb artwork by Mikio Murakami.

There is a great sense of unease throughout the story. A real sense of isolation and self-doubt that slowly builds and builds as the tale slowly progresses towards its eerie conclusion. I really took my time and enjoyed this book. Despite its short length there is plenty of meat on the bones and the writing is top-notch. It’s a sad tale about one persons dream, the quest for a better life where everything smells of roses and there isn’t a single drop of rain in the sky. With superb writing and a real thoughtfulness of story, ‘An Ideal Retreat’ is a flawless tale.

Pick up a copy from Dim Shores here.

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