The Dark Between The Trees by Fiona Barnett
This book is a debut from Fiona Barnett and went on my list because of its interesting premise, mixing history, story, folklore and landscape into a layered yarn.
Here’s the blurb:
1643: A small group of Parliamentarian soldiers are ambushed in an isolated part of Northern England. Their only hope for survival is to flee into the nearby Moresby Wood... unwise though that may seem. For Moresby Wood is known to be an unnatural place, the realm of witchcraft and shadows, where the devil is said to go walking by moonlight...
Seventeen men enter the wood. Only two are ever seen again, and the stories they tell of what happened make no sense. Stories of shifting landscapes, of trees that appear and disappear at will... and of something else. Something dark. Something hungry.
Today, five women are headed into Moresby Wood to discover, once and for all, what happened to that unfortunate group of soldiers. Led by Dr Alice Christopher, an historian who has devoted her entire academic career to uncovering the secrets of Moresby Wood. Armed with metal detectors, GPS units, mobile phones and the most recent map of the area (which is nearly 50 years old), Dr Christopher's group enters the wood ready for anything.
Or so they think.
The mirroring of the 14th century story with the modern story was great. I really enjoy books that switch back and forward through stories via the chapters and this one does this with ease allowing you to follow the journey of the modern academics and the civil war soldiers as a parallel story, showing that history, really does repeat itself.
This book was my Jolabokaflod and I read it over the four days Christmas break. I found it an easy evening read that was just the right balance of historical information for the genre of book.
It's billed as folk horror but if you, like me, are a bit of a wimp when it comes to more modern horror, have no fear, this is not a James Herbert or a Stephen King, it's more of an original Grimm in the horror stakes.
My only reservation is I’m not sure it quite lives up to its reveiws. There are places where the language and sentence construction doesn’t feel quite right but this is me being nit-picky and face it, we could proably find this in many of the books we read. However, that said, there were just a enough jarring sentences to interupt the flow of the book for me.
Overall, if you’re a fan of folklore, heritage, history and the language of the landscape, you’ll love this book.
You can buy Fiona Barnett’s ‘The Dark Between The Trees,’ in all good bookshops.
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Don’t forget to support your local library too and see if they have a copy to borrow.