“Blackmoor” by Edward Hogan

BlackmoorAccording to Wikipedia, Edward Hogan completed a MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2004 before his first novel Blackmoor was published. The book won the 2009 Desmond Elliott Prize, which recognizes debut novels written in English and published in the UK. Blackmoor was also shortlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize.

The plot concerns the question of why the inhabitants of Blackmoor, a Derbyshire mining village have abandoned their homes. But there is a linked story about the death of resident Beth Cartwright, an albino with a ghostly appearance and disturbed behaviour who is shunned by the other villagers. When Blackmoor experiences explosions caused by the methane from abandoned pit shafts, the villagers begin to believe that this must be the fault of Beth.

Peter Carty has reviewed the book in The Independent, naming Hogan as a writer to watch. Whilst he acknowledges that there are weaknesses in the book, he describes it as

a debut novel of ambitious substance and style… aided by writing which is charged with a bite and passion …

We read this in April 2016. Our group was less impressed, finding the book somewhat disappointing – undeveloped and aimless. Hilary, Bill and John did like the book, with their enjoyment being helped by the local connections.

Brenda missed the meeting but sent this review:

I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked the book for the first half. It had an odd style about it. All downhill in second half as the story became more plodding and rather irritating.

Malcolm joined the meeting towards the end, just in time to offer a brief and, it turned out, entirely fictitious reaction to the book before confessing he hadn’t read it and had only turned up to get next month’s book.

Our scores ranged from 3 to 8.5, resulting in an average of  5.2 from 13 readers.

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