Reviewer: JJ Marsh
What we thought:
Eerie, claustrophobic, layered and symbolic, this Booker-longlister is a thoughtful read. For something so short, it carries the weight of many interpretations. For the plot is simple enough.
Outsider Timothy takes occupation of an abandoned house on the Cornish coast. He’s treated with suspicion by the close-mouthed locals and the dour fishermen who trawl the seas for mutant fish.
The house belonged to Perran, who apparently drowned in an accident, but his presence lingers over the village ten years after the event.
Timothy’s isolation, delirious dreams and obsessive search for information on Perran blends with the discomfiting sense of exclusion from an unhappy, grieving society.
The novella, like its landscape, begins to fracture towards the end and in the cracks we begin to understand the construct it obscures.
Without spoilers, one can read this as an exploration of grief and its effect on the mind; a chilling tale of ecological horror; a parable of a fractured country where country and city folk think (and vote) in different ways; a dive into the underwater caves of masculine identity or simply as a surge of many images, taking shape or meaning as each wave breaks over you, the reader.
You’ll enjoy this if you liked: The Wicker Man, Watership Down, Rebecca
Avoid if you don’t like: Unresolved questions, shifting realities, dreams
Ideal accompaniments: Gin and bitter lemon, star-gazy pie and On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter
Read an interview with Wyl here.
Available on Amazon