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I really enjoyed the elements of folk-horror Paver used in the novel. Images of swamp demons with wide mouths and frog-like eyes, impish creatures with swampy green horns, they paint a very different picture to the antiquated Christian red-skinned devils so often depicted in medieval dooms. Through Edmund’s journal, his entitlement of his position in the world is clear. He can treat those in his household how he pleases, as long as he keeps up appearances to society. As Maud’s account starts, she knows her mother is constantly ill, resulting in “the groaning”. Edmund’s sexual desires take precedence over his wife’s health, who repeatedly suffers miscarriages. Young Maud makes up her own version of events until she starts to read her father’s journals.

Wakenhyrst ⋆ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm Wakenhyrst ⋆ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Time heals old wounds and dissipates old illusions as a new generation of Caskeys ascends to power. Speaking of ludicrous phenomena, I really enjoyed how Paver explores the similarity between the practises of Maud’s religious father, and the superstitious practices of the villagers and house staff. Edmund rebukes the superstitions of the common folk, yet practises not only religious customs but also carries a hagstone, renowned by locals to ward off bad spirits (though he claims that he keeps it simply as a childhood memento). Maud highlights the hypocrisy of the ‘rules’ each side enforces: “What made these two sets of rules so dangerous was that you got punished if you mixed them up, but you couldn’t always tell what kind of rule it was. If you spilled salt, you had to toss a pinch over your left shoulder; but was that to bind the devil…or was it because Judas Iscariot spilled salt at the last supper?” Wakenhyrst combines elements of all the things I adore, medieval history and religious imagery, the Anglo-Saxon language, the unromantic beauty of the East-Anglian marshes, gothic themes, visceral horror, and the astute exploration of gender and class issues in Edwardian Britain.Few authors write as well as Michelle Paver so clearly does. Her descriptions of The Fens breathe a unique beauty into the stagnant and miasmic nature of marshlands, her passionate yet restrained depiction of a strange young girl’s first kiss will leave you enraptured, and her mastery of suspense will make your hair stand on end.

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In an additional similarity to Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, the element of the supernatural in Wakenhyrst is never made explicit – instead only making an appearance in the character’s dreams and visions. This appears to serve multiple functions, largely to make obvious Edmund Stearne’s poor grasp on reality, to illuminate the ludicrous religious and superstitious phenomena experienced by the inhabitants of Wakenhyrst, but also so as not to undermine the stark, natural power of The Fens.This dark, gothic tale with hook you in with its atmospheric setting of a house on the edge of the Suffolk fens, and its themes of superstition, witchcraft and religion” Marianne has a dark history and a secret that she and her ex-boyfriend, Jesse, have kept for years. Now the pact they made is beginning to break, threatening her family and vulnerable daughter.

Wakenhyrst – Michelle Paver

The gulf between these two existences was vast. There was no in-between. Either he was a murderer, or he was not. The journals of painter and historian Edmund Stearne have been kept safely in Wake’s End since his admittance to an asylum for the criminally insane. He admitted he did it but that he never did anything wrong. 60 years later, his daughter releases his, and her, story to the world.A gripping ghost story… This is a brilliantly atmospheric read (be warned: it’s also terrifying!) with a brave, forward-thinking heroine I loved.”

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