The Green Man of Eshwood Hall by Jacob Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was something of a slow burn for me. A sense of uneasiness pervades the whole of the novel, with the nomadic lifestyle of the family suggesting that something is not quite right, and that unsettling eerie atmosphere carries over in the depiction of the woods.
The book feels very Northern, both in the language used and the setting – a mythical Northumberland. I have noted that there are a lot of reviews which are critical of the pace of the book – and it does feel that it meanders in a meaningless way at times, yet it is this pace which allows the tension of the plot to build as bargains are made and entered into and the reader begins to understand that childlike innocence will never be an excuse for the breaking of an agreement.
The complicated mother/daughter relationship at the centre of the book, and the constant feeling that something is not quite right – often left unsaid, is actually where the strength of the book lies.
I am not going to spoil the ending, but it certainly packs something of a punch.
If you are prepared to take your time – to recognise that not all pleasure comes immediately, but needs to be built up and layered into the suspension until the moment of the final revelation, this is a book you will enjoy.
Creepy, haunting, lyrical and disturbing. Those are the words that come to my mind as I contemplate the end of the story.
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