The Marriage Act by John Marrs, Published by Pan Macmillan, @johnmarrs1 @panmacmillan #dystopian #contemporary #blog #review

From the bestselling author of The One, now an eight-part Netflix series. Set in the same world as The OneThe Marriage Act is a dark, high-concept thriller.

‘One of the most exciting original thriller writers’ Simon Kernick

What if marriage was the law? Dare you disobey?

Britain. The near-future. A right-wing government believes it has the answer to society’s ills – the Sanctity of Marriage Act, which actively encourages marriage as the norm, punishing those who choose to remain single.

But four couples are about to discover just how impossible relationships can be when the government is monitoring every aspect of our personal lives, monitoring every word, every minor disagreement . . . and will use every tool in its arsenal to ensure everyone will love, honour and obey.

Black Mirror meets thriller with a dash of Naomi Alderman’s The Power.

‘Clever, compelling and terrifyingly plausible. A near future nightmare that grips from the first page and never let’s go. The Marriage Act is a brilliant examination of relationships and the power we let others have over us. And talk about a page-turner. This one will leave you with paper cuts! C. J. Tudor, bestselling author of The Chalk Man

“A smart, gripping and scarily believable story from the master of the speculative thriller.”―TM Logan, author of The Curfew and The Holiday

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Macmillan; Main Market edition (19 Jan. 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 496 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 103500125X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1035001255

The Marriage Act by John Marrs is set in a similar time to two of his’ previous books, but what makes this one so unique and so terrifying is a right-wing Government that promotes “happy” marriages with large incentives. Better NHS, better housing, etc., all of which sound beneficial (sound familiar?), but if these marriages are monitored by hearing devices placed strategically all over the house, whatever couples do or say may incite different levels of Government concern, amounting to the possibility of an in-house therapist.

In a desperate attempt to right devastated marriages, this plausible tale involves control in a dystopian landscape. For me this is the perfect medium for abuse. Singletons are forced into a lower and less sustainable existence. Their struggles are frighteningly real, forcing many to consider the love, honour and obey scheme carved out by the The Sanctity of Marriage Act. But for those already choosing to live within this oppressive structure, life isn’t quite so rosy. Think The Handmaid’s Tale meets The One.

The book follows several characters, which may be a little confusing to start with.. Each have secrets and motivations which will ultimately put their place in society at peril. Each have a backstory that allows the reader a hint of how they arrived at their current status and the extreme measures they endured. After filling out a questionnaire, matches are made for individuals. But how will they evade the ears that hear? I can’t imagine such an intrusive society, listening into every aspect of your private life, and where one couple were forced to write conversations on scraps of paper to dodge the Audite.

With a map at the start of the book to orient the reader to regions etc., this is a very well-constructed novel, the type readers have come to expect from John Marrs. The book promises challenges that far outweigh the norm, together with aspects of horror to keep you glued to each page. This is a speed-rap of a story, brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan and John Marrs for allowing me the privilege of reading an advance copy of this fabulous book. A full five stars from me!

About the Author:

John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. His books include No1 bestseller and Netflix series The One, The Passengers, award winning What Lies Between Us and The Good Samaritan. Follow him at, on Twitter @johnmarrs1, on Instagram and on Facebook at

Other Books by John Marrs

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