By Jenn Ashworth
A haunting and otherworldly tale of the impact on one family of a guest with seemingly magical powers, who alters the course of their lives in ways neither they nor he foresee.
'Dark, compelling, beautifully written'
Andrew Michael Hurley
In this eerie, atmospheric and mysterious tale, a woman returns to the house in Morecambe Bay where she grew up in the 1960s to find it falling apart, undermined by the roots of two huge sycamores. She is unaware that she has awoken the spirits of her parents, Jack and Nettie Clifford, who watch anxiously as their daughter Annette is overwhelmed by the state of the house and realise too late how far they neglected her as a child.
As their memories come alive, the story unfolds of a crucial summer when Annette was 8 and Nettie became too ill to run their boarding house. The lodgers have to go - all except the newly arrived butcher's apprentice, because he seems to have miraculous healing powers and is Jack and Nettie's last, desperate hope. But is he who he says he is? Why do those he lays his hands on feel an erotic charge? And why does he despise his own gift? As everything comes to a head, so too does Annette's story in the present. But this time, someone is looking out for her and comes to her rescue. Finally, the spirits of her parents can let go.
Jenn Ashworth was born in 1982 in Preston. She studied English at Cambridge and since then has gained an MA from Manchester University, trained as a librarian and run a prison library in Lancashire. She now lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster. Her first novel, A Kind of Intimacy, was published in 2009 and won a Betty Trask Award. In 2011 her second, Cold Light, was published by Sceptre and she was chosen by BBC's The Culture Show as one of the twelve Best New British Novelists. In 2013 her third novel, The Friday Gospels, was published to resounding critical acclaim. She lives in Lancaster with her husband, son and daughter.
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- Publication date:
06 Apr 2017
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A disturbing, precisely rendered tale of charisma, misplaced faith and transgenerational trauma, with a touch of the supernatural . . . [it] brings to mind the claustrophobic, suburban world of Dennis Potter's great play Brimstone and Treacle. — Alex Clark, Spectator
Headily atmospheric and luminously written. Ashworth's narrative is packed with the pungent smells of the sea and decay . . . her pages are threaded with original, arresting images . . . not many writers could bind the supernatural and the literary with such lightness of touch — Francesca Angelini, Sunday Times
Ashworth's gift for capturing the quirky ordinariness of life is as sharp here as it is in her previous novels . . . Dark, compelling, beautifully written, Fell adds another powerful story to the mythology of our strange hinterlands. — Andrew Michael Hurley, Guardian
A beautifully written book which cleverly blurs fantasy and realism. — David Mitchell, Daily Mail
Despite the ethereal narrators, the book's triumph is in the corporeal, the ache of the mundane, the beauty of small things. The characters have a poetry of the ordinary - a brokenness reminiscent of Alan Bennett that makes them flesh and blood. — Ruth McKee, Irish Times
There's magic in this Lancashire-set novel . . . Atmospheric [and] empathic — Stephanie Cross, Lady
This marvellous novel is both haunted and haunting, as Ashworth expertly blurs the boundaries between the past and the present, the homely and the uncanny, the quick and the dead. Touching on profound questions of myth, mortality and redemption, it is both sinister and beautiful - and ultimately tender.
— Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
Eerie and lyrical - prepare to be haunted by this innovative novel. — Carys Bray, author of Sweet Home and A Song For Issy Bradley