Nearly 40 years after his outstanding second novel, The House on the Brink, John Gordon has lost nothing of his power to evoke an uncanny and menacing past beneath the bleak flat fenland landscape of East Anglia. A dragon enemy, believed slain in distant tribal times, still lurks as a growing threat in the dykes, canals and waterways, and Jenny can see what no one else can see, its ‘whelps’ who take on human form and haunt her. Only when she meets Kit, who has been drawn in to the ancient mystery by what he found on a foolhardy swim in the dangerous Dutchman’s Cut, is a friendship and alliance formed to fight the enemy that both of them can now see. Aided by a ghostly survivor from the tribal past, they take on a dangerous mission as thick snow and ice freeze the fenland levels in the run-up to Christmas. As they face the menace together, their friendship deepens into mutual attraction.
More than one character in Fen Runners is accused by those who cannot see the enemy of having ‘too much imagination’. What is true and what is not? ‘Imagination’ exposes Kit and Jenny to danger, but it makes them agents of protection for their town and village. It is the most imaginative readers, too, who will particularly like this short and powerfully atmospheric story, in which legend, landscape and weather are almost as important as the children. For the right reader, this eerie little novel will be unforgettable.