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Books Editorial

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Michelle Paver, Head of Zeus

Out now in paperback this gothic chiller is the perfect stoke-the-fire-and-lock-all-the-doors winter read. It begins with a reporter calling on Maud at her dilapidated old house in the Suffolk fens. It’s 1966. He’s trying to get her to shed light on the events that happened decades ago, when she was just a girl. We learn that back in 1913 her father left the house armed with an ice pick and hammer and murdered someone. He was consequently locked up in an asylum but, after his death, gained fame for his Hieronymus Bosch-esque paintings – completed when he was incarcerated. The narrative then switches back to the Edwardian era. We learn of Maud’s lonely childhood – particularly after the death of her mother – and how her father is increasingly convinced that he has unleashed some kind of malevolent spirit in the dangerous fens outside the house. Michelle Paver throws the kitchen sink at this one – witchcraft, folklore, dusty old books, draughty old churches – in a supremely satisfying tale that exerts a strange and peculiar hold over the reader from the get-go.