The stunning new novel from the prize-winning author of The Wake
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The stunning new novel from the prize-winning author of The Wake.
‘Come to a place like this . . . and you will understand soon enough that this world is a great animal, alive and breathing.’
Beast plunges you into the world of Edward Buckmaster, a man alone on a west-country moor. What he has left behind we don’t yet know; what he faces is an existential battle with himself, the elements and with something he begins to see in the margins of his vision: some creature that is tracking him, the pursuit of which will become an obsession.
This is a vivid exploration of isolation, courage and the search for truth. Short, shocking and exhilarating, it confirms Paul Kingsnorth as one of our most daring and rewarding contemporary writers.
To read Beast is a joy. Prose and gaze are inseparable, and Kingsnorth’s gaze is so intense it forces a similar intensity from the reader. The smallest shift of the light puts us on edge, on our mettle. Will something terrible happen? The moor, an empty church, an empty lane with something glimpsed swiftly crossing it – all are so menacing because they are so minutely themselves. There’s a kind of aching attentiveness necessary to read Beast, but the narrative easily brings it out in you, and the reward is obvious. The more of Kingsnorth’s intensity you survive, the more you can manage: in the end, your gaze has become as minutely focused as his hermit’s. You feel alive.
With its ruggedly handsome descriptions of nature and portentous spiritual self-reflection, Beast feels like Robert Macfarlane re-written by Cormac McCarthy . . . the spell is never broken.
Beast continues Kingsnorth’s powerful exploration of the connection between people, place and prose . . . this is a novel bravely wrestling not only with the bestial, but with what it is that makes us human.
Kingsnorth’s style is a kind of ancient modernism, and he’s really the only writer doing anything like it. His taste for self-isolation has produced writing that is both powerful and singular – Beckett doing Beowulf.
[E]eerily arresting . . . the book brings to mind such films as Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man and Michael Reeves's Witchfinder General . . . [T]here is much potent writing, calm wisdom and quiet understanding in this book. Beast offers a message for the future as well as a robust challenge to the present.
Although written in our tongue, the language is still relentless, even brutal . . . [a] strange, elusive book.
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