Samson Ashburner has very low self-esteem, largely due to a disfigurement for which he blames his mother. The only positive to his existence is a Cumbrian wood which he believes he owns by an ancient agreement and where he has learnt to make charcoal. When that is threatened by a grasping, silver-tongued developer, he needs help and it comes in the shapely form of a traveller girl, Angel Obscura. She may help Samson to fight his corner and re-assess his attractiveness to others, but that is only part of an elaborate game to salve her own wounds.
This is an intriguingly written novel. It moves at a good pace and keeps the reader on side. The main character for all his gloom is engaging. Even the weirdly duplicitous Angel has a curious fascination. Some of the other characters are a bit heavy-handed but the themes make it well worth promoting.
It should get readers thinking about the loss of ancient crafts. They should identify too with the dilemma of reconciling traditional ways of life and the need to make a living in rural communities with the march of commercialism.