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By The Bestselling Author Of Dark Matter And Thin Air, An Outstanding New Piece Of Story Telling, A Tale Of Mystery And Imagination Laced With Terror It Is A Masterwork In The Modern Gothic Tradition That Ranges From Mary Shelley And Bram Stoker To Neil Gaiman And Sarah Perry Something Has Been Let Loose 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 FatherWhen He Finds A Painted Medieval Devil In A Graveyard, Unhallowed Forces Are AwakenedMaud S Battle Has Begun She Must Survive A World Haunted By Witchcraft, The Age Old Legends Of Her Beloved Fen And The Even Nightmarish Demons Of Her Father S PastSpanning Five Centuries, Wakenhyrst Is A Darkly Gothic Thriller About Murderous Obsession And One Girl S Longing To Fly Free


10 thoughts on “Wakenhyrst

  1. says:

    This is a glorious piece of Edwardian gothic historical fiction from Michelle Paver, it has elements of horror and madness, set in the remote village of Wakenhyrst, surrounded by the fens of Suffolk at the start of the 20th century The isolated manor house of Wake s End is owned by local landowner, historian and scholar Edmund Stearne, in the midst of Guthlaf s fen, an area bursting with superstitions, folklore, myths and legends, of the dreaded fen tigers a savage people doctoring their ague with a powerful home brewed opium The overarching religion of the time is controlling and powerful, with locals attending the ornate medieval St Guthlaf s church, with its ornate demons and fallen angels The novel begins with the now 69 year old Maud Stearne, whose father was committed to an asylum after murdering a local person when she was a child In the asylum he painted medieval style paintings of demons, which have been rediscovered and lauded Doubt is now being cast on his guilt, and suspicion is being cast on Maud instead, spearheaded by Patrick Rippon, journalist on the Sunday Explorer Magazine Hounded and harried at Wake s End, Maud allows access to her father s notebooks which she has managed to keep secret till now The narrative then goes back time to Maud s childhood, her close relationship with her mother, and her devotion to her father, Edmund, at least at the beginning Her mother submits to the abusive authority of Edmund, caught in a cycle of never ending miscarriages and still births, with a husband indifferent to her sufferings, intent only on satisfying his sexual needs, affronted when the doctor suggests desisting occasionally Maud becomes responsible for the household with the death of her mother Edmund begins to become obsessed with the doom, a ancient painting he discovers at the site of St Guthlaf s, connecting it with his research on local medieval mystic Alice Pyett Maud serves as his personal assistant, something she is initially proud of until she learns that he is merely taking advantage of her, whilst attaching no importance to her intelligence Despite being forbidden from the fens, a source of fear for Edmund, Maud is drawn to fen s natural wildness and beauty, developing a life long passion that has her fighting for its survival As she begins to become aware of the chilling threats that her dangerous father poses, she finds no one will listen, indeed threatening her instead, for having the temerity to tarnish Edmund s reputation.Paver is a gifted storyteller with her understated air of menace and claustrophobia that pervades the dark and intense narrative, where even though the reader knows where it is all heading, nevertheless manages to sustain tension and suspense in the need to know the how and why I got completely caught up in Maud s character, she shows such courage, having to handle a out of control father in the throes of a growing insanity driven by his heinous past She is trapped and thwarted by the overwhelming misogyny of society, in its attitudes to women in this period of history The depiction of the fens, the likes of Jubal Rede, Clem Walker and Ivy, locals whose destiny demonstrate the class inequalities, and the powerlessness faced by the poor, provide a fantastic, detailed and unforgettable sense of location in this historical era Highly recommended Many thanks to Head of Zeus for an ARC.


  2. says:

    The reeds stood tall and dead I had the oddest feeling they wanted me gone The light was failing I caught a swampy smell of decay Behind me something rustles and I saw the reeds part for some unseen creature I thought No wonder Maud s mad Hold this beautiful book in your hands Let your eyes feast on the haunting magpie and the blood red stains Concentrate on the images that will no doubt start flooding your mind ach and every thought that visits you becomes real once you start reading this novel It is haunting and ruthless and its cover speaks eloquently than any blurb Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver might be the best book of 2019 But be aware it is not for the faint of heart but for the readers who embrace darkness Those who make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities VoltaireOur story begins with a stranger 1967 A young art historian visits the daughter of Edmund Stearne, a scholar and painter, who has left a strange body of work behind him Maud takes us back in time, in 1913 Through letters, articles, pages of diaries and our heroine s own thoughts, we find ourselves wandering in the fens, the forbidden realms of magical creatures , in the darkness A darkness that suffocates the members of the Stearne household, so thick and muddy and twisted that no moonlight can light our way Enigmatic and terrifying like the woman in a long, black dress that appears on Edmund s paintings, secretive like Wakenhyrst and its residents Suffocating like the sets of rules set by Edmund, a cruel and sadistic man Or is he I know what you did It is only a picture It won t do me any harma high thin cry on the fen The sins of the past is a recurring motif in Gothic Fiction and here it is used to absolute perfection The fullness of time has come and the house itself has become a character, the fens have paved the way for retribution Maud becomes the hand, the one who wants to break free Paver creates atmosphere in such a powerful way, creating a novel that would find its proper depiction as a Bosch masterpiece Strange findings, dark omens Traces of witchcraft, owls, moonlit nights that hide terrible secrets Children are playing in the cemetery, knocking off the wings of angels Will o the wisps and dark fairies Ghosts Foreboding thoughts that seem to call for Death And Death is everywhere One for the rook, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow In Edmund s mind, the Devil seems to have taken control over his life Paver uses a perfect combination of literary and raw language to depict the havoc in the man s life Jesus said that there are those who think they are righteous because they say yes to God Edmund embodies the hypocrisy of the ones who pretend to be devoted when in fact they are worse than the very thing they fear Art is also used as a symbol of knowledge and a constant reminder of the pagan past that Edmund hates A depiction of the Doom brings disarray in the community and the discovery of a Green Man haunts Edmund The hidden messages, the symbolisms, the soul of the artists form a menacing danse macabre and taunt him mercilessly Paver uses the magpie as a symbol of obsession and temptation along with a multitude of the customs of the countryside that make the novel such a rich read.The winter is bitter, frosty Arctic winds are blowing The haunting sound of the ice, breathing through another winter In an atmosphere of mysticism, superstition and tradition, you will feel your heart pounding and breaking You will experience the fear of looking at yourself in the mirror, the dread of looking out of the window in a stormy night This reminded me of Sarah Perry s masterpiece Melmoth The house seems to have acquired a life and a will of its own, becoming a nest for troubled spirits and confused human And at the centre of everything that takes place we find Maud The woman at the heart of each one is a witch The creatures swarming around her are her evil familiars And the witch is Maud Maud is a woman who isn t interested in saints but in the demons and monsters that have been defeated Who will narrate their stories She twists every prejudice against women and throws them back at those who deem themselves superior She is an outstanding character Resilient, firm, wise and realistically shady She is not afraid to punish those who think they are entitled to diminish her and is ruthless enough to fight for what is right Her views on religion reflect certain thoughts that have crossed my mind over the years Maud is one of those characters that are so vivid you can even hear their voice in your mind You know how they speak, how they walk and behave, what they look like She is the heart of this superb novel.Read it, friends That s all I can tell you It is God who made me order the Doom to be torn down, thereby setting the demon loose And now it is God who commands me to go into battle Many thanks to Head of Zeus and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.My reviews can also be found on


  3. says:

    This Victorian Edwardian gothic novel was a compulsive read that kept me awake till small hours It has everything I love about the genre dramatic location, mystery, folklore and beautiful writing style I was captivated by the way the story unravels, from the very first pages you feel the evil that in somewhere there, in the Fens at Wake s End In Edmund Stearn s mind Maud Stearn, Edmund s daughter, now an elderly lady who still lives at Wake s End, agrees to come back to the terrible events which took place over five decades earlier And by doing so, she manages to save her family home.It is very difficult to write about this novel without adding any spoilers, let me just add that WAKENHYRST for me is a most fine example of the gothic novel and a delight for the genre lovers.


  4. says:

    Something has been let looseQuite a creepy, entertaining read, well told Reads easily Intriguing Mix of history, fantasy, horror, as the cover rightly says a masterfully creepy gothic thriller The Bookseller Yes, liked it, like many here I believe Blessed is the man who endureth manifold troubles, for whereas he is tried, then shall he receive everlasting reward This is the book description 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 witout a mother, ruled by her repressive father When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl s longing to fly free.


  5. says:

    Actual rating 4.5 5 stars.This is the perfect atmospheric read to accompany these gloomy winter evenings.The Gothic wildness of the fens is almost untouched by the heft of man that seems to be overtaking the rest of the world It is a place undisturbed, expect by undefinable shrieks at night, the ghosts of superstition and folklore, and one lone mansion that borders the wilderness Inside this house, the occupants largely attempt to exist in total disconnection with the fens but something about the strange beauty of it allures its youngest member and Maud will not settle into her relegated sphere of the world before she can explore all of the wild offerings that exist outside of it.This novel was staged around a series of communications between the fully grown Maud and a journalist attempting to lure her into telling her story Financial needs meant she finally relented and the reader was flung back to Edwardian England as the true story begins to unfurl in the present tense.I adored Maud Her forward thinking and feminist ideologies, her stubborn nature, and her ardent longing for the natural world all spoke to my heart and I was to unable to do anything but align with her cause Her father, however, far less so, just as the story demanded of its readers.Along with the strong willed Maud, my heart also became enamoured with the majestic wilderness that consistently surrounded her I could not fail but to liken this to my favourite read, Wuthering Heights Cathy Earnshaw is as much a product of the moors as she is her upbringing and the same can be said for Maud Also, in both, the mirroring of tempestuous passions between nature and the characters traversing its plains dominate the texts Both were about far than nature s undisturbed beauty but that is what spoke so clearly to me, through the intricacies of the plot, and ensured both as eternally unforgettable reads I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review Thank you to the author, Michelle Paver, and the publisher, Head of Zeus, for this opportunity.


  6. says:

    This was such a treat Gothic suspense, the creepy fens, insanityeverything I could have wished for Maud was a fantastic character, idiosyncratic, feisty, intelligent battling against the history and the superstitions of Wakenhyrst and her father Her deep love of the fens, of Chatterpie, of Clem made her such a sympathetic character and pulled at my heart strings.


  7. says:

    A creepy gothic whydunnit, set in the fens of Suffolk, Wakenhyrst is gripping from the first page This is a story of obsession, madness, delusion, superstition Wakenhyrst mostly takes place in the early 20th century, just prior to the first World War, and combines creepy medieval church art old religious notions of witchcraft, demonic possession, and saintly miracles lingering pagan superstitions leaving a bowl of bread and milk at the door, for witches a creaky old manor house the eerie natural beauty of the watery fens The details of a murder are provided upfront, the rest of the book covers the events leading up to it So you get a great early hook, but it also means the book drags a little towards the end knowing what s coming, I grew impatient to finally get there, and it s a real slow burn Michelle Paver is well known for her chilling ghost stories, but to me this one is historical fiction with a crime element There is still some suggestion of the supernatural in Wakenhyrst, but that element of ambiguity, where the rational explanation and the spooky one are equally plausible, just wasn t present here I was Team Rational all the way This did not diminish the story for me at all, but other readers expecting a Paver haunting might be disappointed With a palpable atmosphere, terrific setting and well drawn characters Wakenhyrst is a satisfying read.


  8. says:

    I have to thank Waterstones twitter account for telling me about this book We have here a gothic mystery complete with puzzling murder, eerie setting and possibly some magic.Meet Maude She s the daughter of Edmund Stearn, a historian, scholar and land owner When we first meet her in this book, she s an old woman who has to tell her tale in order to raise enough money to keep her home, Wake s End, running Hollywood is interested in the tale.Wake s End is a large manor house situated on the edge of a bleak Fen near the titular town.Edmund Stearn is sorry to say this so bluntly an asshole A tyrant who excuses away all his behavior with God s will and a woman s role and his divine right etc His wife is French, originally, and plays along to the extend of allowing him to take her again and again despite her body slowly but surely giving up She keeps getting pregnant and miscarrying and little Maude has to watch it all Think of what that does to a child.To escape the oppressive rules in the household and loveless upbringing, she walks around the Fen She loves all the animals living there and the silent beauty.Her father, on the other hand, hates the landscapes, hates animals and forbids any pets except the two horses needed for the carriage What we know from the beginning of the book is that one day, when Maude is 16 years old, her mother dead and gone, her father kills someone horribly, never denies having committed the murder either but saying that he had to do it and ending up in a well screaming himself half to death We now learn of her father s sins in his own childhood as well as his view on married life and children through the diaries he keeps that young Maude keeps reading secretly She learns things even horrible than one might expect from the above description, believe me.And so we slowly catch up on what has happened in this house throughout the decades, the tragic events happening to several individuals of three generations until the conclusion.Reading this book wasn t easy Not just the mere facts such as Maude s mother having to endure her husband s hunger , but also to read about it and other incidents from Edmund Stearn s sickening perspective shudders But all that helped to enhance the atmosphere of the tale It was psychological than physical terror except for what had been done to Maude s mother , as is usually the case in such books, and it worked really well The plot was moving along rather slowly to show all the incidents throughout Maude s childhood that ultimately led to the end we already know about from the beginning of the book Finding out the true horror was great, however I haven t read too many such mysteries to be able to judge this in comparison so maybe my buddy reader is right in saying that it ticks off all the boxes but brings nothing new However, I can also not help asking if that is a bad thing even if it is true Not every tale has to re invent the wheel to be atmospheric and enjoyable after all To me, this book was highly unsettling and infuriating throughout thanks to the author having created a splendid setting and detailed albeit often stupid, even for the period characters Therefore, I quite liked it.


  9. says:

    Edwardian Gothic mysteries are among my favourite genres, and this one delivered those chills in all their glory A very enjoyable mystery, a story of madness and delusion if you, like me, love this genre, I absolutely suggest you give it a try Of course, as for every genres, there are tropes and such and they are very present in this one as well but, overall, the story was entertaining enough, the characters well developed if a little predictable and development of the mystery very satisfying Glad I found out about this book


  10. says:

    Having enjoyed, Dark Matter, and Thin Air, I was delighted to receive Michelle Paver s new novel, to review The story begins in 1966, with the discovery of three paintings, by Edmund Stearne, which have taken the art world by storm Edmund Stearne was committed to an asylum, where he created his only artworks and now a reporter wants to unearth the story behind the paintings In order to do so, Paver takes us back to 1913, and a house on the Fens This is a wonderfully Gothic novel, which has a superbly evocative setting The isolated house, the tyrannical father and the intelligent, scholarly daughter, Maud Maud is an excellent central character and I adored her from the first moment she appeared on the page In a way, this is a coming of age novel, as Maud discovers the reality beneath the surface of her solitary world.Although I enjoyed both of Michelle Paver s previous books, I feel this is really a step up It just seeps and oozes atmosphere, as Paver makes the world she creates come alive This would be an excellent choice for reading groups, as there is so much to discuss, as well as being an enjoyable personal read I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.