Blackmoor by Edward Hogan
Simon & Schuster, London, 2008
From my TBR pile.
Vincent, an awkward, bird-watching teenager treated badly by his father, lives in a town a few miles from the place where he was born. That place, Blackmoor, no longer exists. As Vincent grows curious about his family history he discovers deeply buried secrets, about himself, his Mother, and the village of Blackmoor. The story, told by an unnamed omniscient narrator, moves back and forth in time and slowly reveals the truth.
This is a book I devoured. The sense of mystery and menace grew to a point where I just couldn’t put it down. At its heart is the fate of British coal mining during the Thatcher years, the devastation wrought on a place and its people. And Hogan writes beautifully.
Vincent sits in the rain-speckled ocher dirt and Leila joins him among the broken teeth of the bridge. The indigo rain clouds have tinted the sun and improved visibility. With the enduring drift of rain, the light has taken on a sourceless clarity, and from this height Vincent can see the brown whorls on the underside of Piano’s light wings. Her colours make it seem like she has been peeled from the rock of the quarry. She does not move those long straight wings, or the elegant `fingers’ at their ends. Instead, she tips dips and tilts as her two charges swoop clumsily down on her like pieces of tumbling flint. From page 50.
In 2009 Blackmoor was awarded the Desmond Elliott Prize for new fiction. As far as I can tell this novel has not been published in the United States. I hope that is remedied soon. I am now waiting for Hogan’s second novel, The Hunger Trace, to be published in paperback in the UK. It is on my wishlist.