Sam feels bereft and angry. His father has died in a bombing while serving in Afghanistan and the last words Sam had with him were angry ones. How he wishes he could bring his father back, if only to make things right, to once more walk up to the great white horse carved into the side of the hill. His anger spills over into his everyday. Then he finds the Stone, white, silver-flecked, ice cold – a stone that give him power. Who is the one-eyed man he sees patrolling the landscapes? Where have the wolves come from? What do the three Tarot images mean for him?
Finbar Hawkins has already established himself as an author to watch with his first novel Witch. This, his second novel, does not disappoint as he mixes the everyday with the world of folklore, legend and myth. Sam is a very real teenager and his response to the death of his father powerful and believable. This allows the interaction with the otherworld – a world where the stories reflecting the concerns, the beliefs of human beings across the ages still resonate; stories Sam’s father has shared with his son. This does not mean Sam moves from this world to another; rather, and more credibly, he finds his life connecting to the deep currents of myth and story reflected in the landscape and ready to become a reality. The decorations by the author of images from the Tarot, feathers, the White Horse all add to the atmosphere, opening doors to imagination. Grief is powerful, anger an emotion that can overwhelm; Hawkins manages the journey to closure with skill, his writing immediate and contemporary, bringing Sam and his world to life through dialogue and personal thought as he talks to us directly. A novel to recommend.