Wakenhyrst

Wakenhyrst

1906: A large manor house, Wake's End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he's an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake's End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud's mother dies...

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Title:Wakenhyrst
Author:Michelle Paver
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Wakenhyrst Reviews

  • Susan

    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 ha

    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.

  • Emma

    This was such a treat! Gothic suspense, the creepy fens, insanity...everything 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.

  • Paromjit

    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 'agu

    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.

  • Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    It was not me who discovered Michelle Paver about five years ago, but my daughter when she pulled “The Wolf Brothers” off the shelf at our local library and then read all six books of the “Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” in short succession. So you may forgive me, that I had Michelle Paver down as a middle grade author until I saw Wakenhyrst on the shelf at the same library but this time in the adult section of “new and notable releases”. The magpie on the cover sealed the deal, because I adore

    It was not me who discovered Michelle Paver about five years ago, but my daughter when she pulled “The Wolf Brothers” off the shelf at our local library and then read all six books of the “Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” in short succession. So you may forgive me, that I had Michelle Paver down as a middle grade author until I saw Wakenhyrst on the shelf at the same library but this time in the adult section of “new and notable releases”. The magpie on the cover sealed the deal, because I adore the birds for their chatter and cheekiness.

    The story starts in the 1960ies, when a journalist tries to uncover more details of the events in 1913 that lead an eminent historian Edward Stearne to be sent to Broadmoor, a high-security psychiatric hospital after committing a brutal and random murder. The journalist in the 1960, intrigued to find out more about Stearne after a historian finds some paintings by Stearne done during his time in Broadmoor. He comes to a different conclusion as to who committed the murder and thus we are thrown back to 1906. We meet Maud, the eldest daughter of Edward Stearne, who at the time is 9 years old. The whole family is under the thumb of Stearne who has imposed so many rules about what the family is allowed and not allowed to do. Maud tries to make sense of the goings on in the house and we work our way towards that fateful day in 1913 with utter relentlessness.

    Paver demonstrates, that you can have unlikeable characters that are engaging. So often when a story features loathsome protagonists, authors forget that the reader still wants to find out why they do what the do, how they became the way they are and how they feel about the consequences of their actions. Naturally, Stearne is utterly unlikeable, a tyrant, he clearly has been mentally unstable all his life, but because he is financially independent, a landowner, a scholar, he can do pretty much whatever pleases him. As for Maude, I was never quite sure, how much I could trust her, but I certainly felt for her. Whatever she did, I could understand her reasoning, her motives.

    Maud is caught up in the rules of the society of her time. Her father knows that she is intelligent, at the same time dismisses her as a stupid girl. She is self-educated because nobody cares to educate her, so she often comes to wrong conclusions. Utterly alone, she has no confidante, no support and when she turns to the stalwarts in her society for help, she is dismissed and threatened. It makes for a claustrophobic, dark experience, when you put yourself in Maud’s shoes.

    I adored how Paver made the natural surroundings in the book of central importance to the characters: Stearne who fears the marsh and the fenland and Maud who feels truly herself when she is in the wildnerness of the fens, a forbidding place, but the only place she can truly be herself. Religion is an important aspect of the book, but nature is the true spirit in this book, where absolution and judgement takes place. Nature wins.

    Paver is a truly gifted storyteller, it is rare for me to read a book that I cannot put down and essentially, I read this in one sitting. So you may imagine my pleasure to realise that she has written more books for adults. And thus, the TBR has grown and I am delighted.

  • Amalia Gavea

    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. Εach and every thought that visits you becomes real once you start

    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. Εach and every thought that visits you becomes real once you start reading this novel. It is haunting and ruthless and its cover speaks more eloquently than any blurb.

    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…

    Our 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,

    , 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?

    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.

    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

    . 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.

    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…

    Many thanks to Head of Zeus and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    My reviews can also be found on

  • Dannii Elle

    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

    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,

    . 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 more 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.

  • Marchpane

    A creepy gothic whydunnit, set in the fens of Suffolk,

    is gripping from the first page. This is a story of obsession, madness, delusion, superstition.

    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 eer

    A creepy gothic whydunnit, set in the fens of Suffolk,

    is gripping from the first page. This is a story of obsession, madness, delusion, superstition.

    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 more historical fiction with a crime element. There is still some suggestion of the supernatural in

    , 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

    is a satisfying read.

  • Bill Lynas

    Dark Matter & Thin Air were both excellent ghost stories from the very talented Michelle Paver. Here is her third adult novel (having also written Young Adult books) which takes us away from the frozen settings of her previous stories & gives us England in the early 20th century.

    Maud is a young girl, living with her repressive father (after her mother dies) in a house on the Suffolk Fens. She is a beautifully drawn character, as are her father & the servants occupying their house. P

    Dark Matter & Thin Air were both excellent ghost stories from the very talented Michelle Paver. Here is her third adult novel (having also written Young Adult books) which takes us away from the frozen settings of her previous stories & gives us England in the early 20th century.

    Maud is a young girl, living with her repressive father (after her mother dies) in a house on the Suffolk Fens. She is a beautifully drawn character, as are her father & the servants occupying their house. Paver creates what feels like an incredibly authentic place & time & the story is very absorbing. I admire this wonderful writer, as she enabled me to understand the characters religious & superstitious beliefs, even though I have absolutely none of these beliefs myself.

    Like her previous two novels the pace is gentle, but the setting & characters draw the reader into the heart of the story. I just wish she would publish a book more often.

  • Annet

    Quite 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!

    This is the book description:

    In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wi

    Quite 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!

    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.

  • ☽¸¸.I am¸¸.•*¨ The ¸¸.•*¨*Phoenix¨*•♫♪ ☾

    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 satisf

    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!

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