Solaris, out now
Following a car crash, in which his girlfriend dies, Fergus Sheppard moves to the village of Allingley, near where the accident happened, and discovers that old traditions hide even older truths…
Geoffrey Gudgion’s debut novel proves Sherlock Holmes’ maxim that ‘the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside’ although some of the crimes in this case are considerably older than Fergus Sheppard would have originally believed. The countryside itself becomes an important character in Gudgion’s tale, as Fergus starts to realise that what appear to be games are no such thing.
The central relationship in the book between Fergus and archaeologist Clare Harvey is well-drawn, which helps to pull the reader into the story more – Allingley is a community that doesn’t take easily to strangers who aren’t used to the old ways, and through Fergus and Clare, we learn about the web of relationships in the village, as it starts to increasingly impinge on their lives. Fergus’ rehabilitation after the accident and his reaction to his old life are also conveyed realistically, which makes a good counterpoint to the more fantastical elements.
Verdict: Evoking the spirit of Dennis Wheatley and those Hammer Horror films where strangers aren’t welcome in a tight-knit community – but with all of the characters and situations given a 21st century makeover – Saxon’s Bane is an effective creepy tale. 7/10