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Wakenhyrst (2018)

av Michelle Paver

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
5202347,197 (3.9)20
In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father. When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened. Maud's battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen, and the even more nightmarish demons of her father's past.… (mer)
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» Se även 20 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 23 (nästa | visa alla)
A gripping and moving story, convincingly evoking both the eerie landscape and the remote-but-present period. Well-paced and beautifully resolved. ( )
  Edward528 | Dec 23, 2023 |
I completely forgot that I borrowed this novel - four years ago! - until I found the title in my Kindle library. Overall, I won't say that I enjoyed the story, but I was certainly captivated and loved the author's writing. Maud is a strong protagonist, befitting the name (my great grandmother's), and the historical and geographical research helped to ground, no pun intended, the fantastical plot. The Suffolk fens make a beautiful and wild natural setting and the connection between the Stearne family at Wake's End and the marshes that surround them made the house into a character, like Manderley. I would love to learn more about that area. Also, bonus points to the author for including the magpie, or chatterpie, that she rescued in real life, even if he did meet a sad end - corvids are incredible birds!

An unearthly combination of The Secret Garden and Where The Crawdads Sing, in my opinion, with a dash of Lady Chatterley's Lover thrown in (sorry Maud!), Wakenhyrst is a powerful read full of strong imagery and unlikeable yet sympathetic characters. Fewer chapters full of the father's religious waffling would have suited me better, but I'm glad I finally got around to reading this one! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 15, 2023 |
Michelle Paver has written two successful YA fantasy series: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness and Gods and Warriors. She has also published two chilling ghost novels for adults: Thin Air (which I greatly enjoyed reading just over a year ago) and Dark Matter (which I’m yet to read but is, according reviewers I respect, just as brilliant). Both are built on a similar premise – individuals in eerie, extreme landscapes, whether Himalayan peaks or the expanse of the Arctic, start losing their grip on reality and are haunted by ghosts, real or imaginary.

Paver’s latest novel, Wakenhyrst, also features a protagonist in thrall of a supernatural obsession. Yet, there are enough departures from her previous ‘formula’ to make this a refreshing uncanny read. It’s also possibly the most ambitious of her adult novels, a tightly-plotted Gothic yarn with strong feminist undertones.

Wakenhyrst’s setting is the (fictional) village of the title, a small settlement in the Suffolk Fens, a few years before the Great War. At first glance, this would appear to be a more prosaic backdrop than the ones the author generally uses – but it’s one which provides ample opportunities for a Gothic tale, thanks to the insidious marshy landscape which surrounds the village, the rich Medieval history of the area and the ancient folklore and folk beliefs of its inhabitants. All these elements are nicely combined by Paver to create an atmosphere of dread which is often tinged with ‘folk horror’. As the author herself explains in her concluding note, the inspiration for this novel is a real life event, the discovery of the Wenhaston Doom, a medieval painting of the Last Judgment whitewashed by the Puritans and rediscovered during renovation works in 1892. This is transposed to “Wakenhyrst”, where a similar find triggers a strong emotional reaction from the conservative and misogynistic Edmund Stearne. Stearne is an eminent medieval scholar and owner of Wake’s End, a rambling manor house situated at the outskirts of the village right next to the Fens. He considers himself a rational academic, but feels surprisingly revolted by one of the demons portrayed in the Doom, a malevolent figure which is a cross between traditional iconography and the ‘fen monsters’ which inhabit the area’s legends.

It is no spoiler to state that it is this demon which will stalk the pages of this novel and haunt the increasingly fevered dreams and imaginings of Stearne. Even in this regard, there is a marked difference from Paver’s previous supernatural tales. The Wakenhyrst demon is not the typically ‘spirit’ of many ghost stories, including Paver’s own, but (assuming it’s real), it’s a particularly ‘physical’ and hideous entity, ugly, fetid and violent. A monster, in other words, which could have come from the pen of M.R. James. Although, one should say, not all monsters are demons, and there are some humans who are worthy of that name...

Indeed, whilst Thin Air and Dark Matter are subtitled “a ghost story”, Wakenhyrst is more of a Gothic tale, with some elements of ‘sensation fiction’ added for good measure. The Gothic element is evident not just in the nature of the plot, but also in the way it is presented, particularly through the use of multiple viewpoints and found manuscripts. The novel is held together by a “frame story” set in the 1960s in which Maude Stearne, Edmund’s daughter, is drawn from a lonely, reclusive life at Wake’s End, and compelled to recount the tragic events which form the core of the novel. These occurrences (as we learn very early on), had consigned her father to a mental institution where he spent years painting several canvases featuring demons and devils (this finds a real-life parallel in the curious story and posthumous fame of artist Richard Dadd). The account of Stearne’s descent into madness is told in the third-person but, very clearly, from the perspective of an older Maud. In this respect, Wakenhyrst can also double as a coming-of-age story, and a particularly harrowing one at that. Interspersed throughout the text are pages from the diary of Stearne, extracts from the medieval Book of Alice Pyett (a thinly-veiled reference to the Book of Margery Kempe), on which Stearne was working with Maud’s help at the time of the Doom’s disovery, and The Life of St Guthlaf, a fictional hagiographic account closely based on the life of St Guthlac of Crowland. These disparate threads are deftly woven by Paver into a gripping canvas, whose momentum increases in the final chapters.

For me, Wakenhyrst works best as a “Gothic thriller”, rather than as a supernatural tale. I had found Thin Air chilling and unsettling because it left the reader in doubt as to whether the ghosts haunting its protagonists really existed. In Wakenhyrst, however, I found it difficult to entertain the possibility of the demons ever having been real. It does not make the tale any less exciting – but it does drain it of some of its supernatural aura. This is partly due to the inherent scepticism of the narrator – which possibly reflects the author’s own views. The novel is saturated with the beliefs of the Middle Ages, but in her concluding Author’s Note, Paver comes across as disparaging of the writings, legends and mindset of the era. Just by way of example, the writings of Margery Kempe are regularly lauded as the very first autobiography in English and often included in feminist and women’s studies – considering the feminist viewpoint of the novel, it is therefore ironic and rather disappointing to find Paver dismissing Kempe as “bizarre, narcissistic and oddly pitiable”. One may well agree with Paver that Guthlac of Crowland was “merely a delusional young man afflicted by malaria, home-made opium and loneliness” – but, even leaving spiritual considerations aside, the fact that his life inspired so many poetic accounts and medieval artistic works, testifies to a fascination with this figure which should not be brushed aside. We might not share the beliefs of our medieval forefathers, or at least, not all of them, but as a first step to respecting and understanding their mindset, we should be ready to momentarily put our preconceptions on hold. Much as we do when we immerse ourselves in a page-turning tale such as Wakenhyrst...

(full review with illustrations at https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2019/03/fen-fiction-michelle-paver-wakenhyrst... ) ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Feb 21, 2023 |
DNF!

I loved the intro of the book, it was so interesting with the article about Maud's father. Then, the story went back in time to when Maud was growing up and I just felt that the story turned more and more boring to listen to (I picked the audiobook version). It came to a point when I just felt that enough is enough. I'm not that interesting in Maud's childhood and youth and her feelings for the young gardener. Her father's diary notes are not rocking my boat. I'm just not the right reader so I decided to quit around 60%...
  MaraBlaise | Jul 23, 2022 |
I chose this book for the setting. I couldn't resist the idea of a paranormal story based in a big house in the middle of a fen. I need to read more spooky stories! Plus the cover is lovely.

However, the book left me disappointed. The description promised me a terrifying ghost story - it was unsettling, yes, but terrifying? No, not once - and a good dose of the paranormal - nothing paranormal ever happens. Just when you think it might, whatever the cause of it was is explained away as something completely normal. The only exception was the waterweed on the pillow - towards the end of the book I was wondering if this had been completely forgotten about, but it came up in conversation right at the end, and was dismissed simply as 'I have no explanation for it'. This just read to me like the author had forgotten all about this point, and realised it was a loose end that needed tidying up in a hurry.

I didn't connect with any of the characters. Maud was interesting to begin with but I didn't feel like she really developed. Edmund's story was much better but I just didn't like him enough to care about his story.

Overall it was a quick read, although it read like a YA book - not a problem in itself although the content of the book was definitely not YA. I really enjoyed the description of the fens, there was a really good sense of atmosphere here. The diary entries were a good way of revealing the backstory to some of the characters. I didn't think the excerpts from Pyett's book gave anything to the story though, and felt they could have been left out, or summarised in the text.

It wasn't a terrible book, I felt it deserved 2 stars for the atmosphere and the suspense (when it came), but it would have been so much better if the book had matched its description. ( )
  Triduana | Jan 25, 2022 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Michelle Paverprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Bettison, EdwardOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
McMahon, JuanitaBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father. When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened. Maud's battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen, and the even more nightmarish demons of her father's past.

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