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Wakenhyrst de Michelle Paver
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Wakenhyrst (2018 original; edició 2019)

de Michelle Paver (Autor)

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3212264,781 (3.99)19
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. Spanning five centuries, 'Wakenhyrst' is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl's longing to fly free.… (més)
Membre:Serrana
Títol:Wakenhyrst
Autors:Michelle Paver (Autor)
Informació:Head of Zeus (2019), Edition: 01, 368 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:*****
Etiquetes:Cap

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Wakenhyrst de Michelle Paver (2018)

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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 | Jan 1, 2022 |
Set in Edwardian Sussex, Maud lives in a manor house in the Fens with her tyrranical father. When he discovers a painting, later named The Doom, in the graveyard of their local church, it seems to unleash all sorts of terrible things. Are they real or just part of a lurid imagination? Can Maud find out the truth?

I very much enjoyed this atmospheric story. There is a good sense of time and place and the feeling of pervading menace is very strong. It’s definitely a gothic thriller type of tale rather than a traditional ghost story. It wasn’t what I was expecting when I first picked the book up, but nevertheless it kept me gripped throughout. It’s creepy and sinister as well as being quite sad in parts. It’s beautifully written and I liked the epistolary sections. They made it feel all more real somehow. The characters really came alive for me and the descriptions of the Fens are very vivid. If I didn’t know better, I would think Wake’s End and it’s Fens really existed! An engaging, eerie and engrossing read. ( )
  VanessaCW | Dec 3, 2021 |
Too plodding. I got the point half way. ( )
  adrianburke | Sep 16, 2021 |
Disappointed in the ending (inadequate payoff for the buildup), but overall a very well-researched and captivating read. ( )
  godzillagirl70 | May 10, 2021 |
This is the third gothic horror novel I have read by this author. While Dark Matter and Thin Air built up an atmosphere of dread through scene setting in bleak and remote landscapes (Antarctica and the Himalayas respectively), this was set in the (by English but probably not wider standards) bleak landscape of the Suffolk Fens. While this worked to some extent, I just didn't think this had the atmosphere of the other two books. I thought the main narrative set in the early 20th century dragged in places as the unexplained happenings in the life of Edmund Stearne and his relationship with his daughter Maude ambled on, with the occasional dramatic flash, but didn't really gather pace until Edmund's mental deterioration at the start of 1913, with his growing conviction that a demon imprisoned in the local church since the Middle Ages had now been released and was inhabiting the heads of members of his family and household. This results in a grisly murder, but this is a result of one man's monomania, rather than a wider atmosphere of horror; thus this comes across more as an interesting historical murder mystery with a supernatural twist, rather than a gothic horror novel. The author is a good writer, though, so this is still definitely worth a look. ( )
  john257hopper | Dec 23, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Michelle Paverautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Bettison, EdwardAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
McMahon, JuanitaNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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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. Spanning five centuries, 'Wakenhyrst' is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl's longing to fly free.

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