When I first started reading this novella I said how the atmosphere was ‘already thick enough to carve chunks out of with a machete’.
Well, it didn’t let up.
The Black Land is the debut novella of M. J. Wesolowski who has had success with his horror short fiction in the past. I read his contribution North in the spine-tingling collection Midnight Movie Creature Feature, an intense tale set in frozen Siberia along the infamous Road of Bones, and couldn’t wait to see what he did when he released a full-length project.
The Black Land did not disappoint.
It’s the story of an American business man, Martin Walker, who buys a remote island of the North East coast of England, home to nothing but gulls, a crumbling castle and some rather nasty local legends. But where Northumbria chooses not to look, Walker sees only an opportunity. Even the increasing number of disturbing incidents that happen to him and his family are not enough to steer him from his desire to develop the island into a luxury resort.
More fool him.
The narrative is steeped in history and legend, exploring tales from the reivers of Scottish and English boarder wars to legendary Norsemen with dark gods and warriors consumed by merciless bloodlust, all set against the grim and grey backdrop of a myth-ridden corner of England.
The intense blurring between the realms of fiction and reality leave you wondering how much of it might actually be real, which leaves a delightful but very real chill lurking around the innards.
This is a treat for horror or thrill-lovers anywhere, especially now with the nights drawing in and the air getting colder. I recommend a room with the curtains drawn and a few candles lit and some soft music to accompany your reading experience.
Might be best to avoid reading directly before bed, however…especially if you live near the sea.
Get clicking, get reading, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.