Isolation Read #56

A modern Gothic set in the badlands near Morecambe; the wet, mist-crawling coastal flats where the line between sea and sky is not always easily discernible.

Like Winterson’s classic Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, this is a tale of religious fervour, truncated (abused?) childhood, obscure rituals, intolerance at the venality of ‘the modern world’ and all the sinners that live in it. The religious drive becomes dangerously intemperate at times: things must be done the right way and be seen to be done the right way.

There is also more than a dash of Dennis Potter’s Brimstone and Treacle lurking in the shadows.

I’m not really clear what qualifies something to be called “Gothic”, at least in stories at any rate, I think I know when it comes to architecture. There is a brooding atmosphere, a formerly hidden room in an old ramshackle house, there is the idea that ‘things’ might have taken place here. There are truculent, untrustworthy locals and there is the overbearing mother who does not accept that her disabled son cannot be cured, all it needs is more devotion, more fervour and a visit to a shrine.

It is a cracking read, one for the fireside in winter, whilst not being a particularly demanding one. It builds, as one of the back cover blurbs has it “from a murmur to a shriek”, which is a good description.

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