Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recommendation: 'Black Spring' by Alison Croggon

Inspired by Wuthering Heights, Black Spring is a modernistic take on the Gothic classic. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Wuthering Heights, it is a passionate yet doomed love between Cathy and her foster brother, Heathcliff. Their story is given a voice through a traveller, Mr. Lockwood, who becomes curious about the past and asks his housekeeper to tell him what happened. Croggon has kept faithful to this structure with Lina and Damek taking the places of Cathy and Heathcliff, Hammel being the traveller, and Anna his housekeeper. However, there is a refreshing atmosphere to the story by an added element of fantasy.

In Croggon’s moors, Royalty and Wizards rule the people. These men together decide the law of the land, and oversee the phenomenon of vendetta. It is difficult to give justice to this idea -- you really must read the book to understand its horror. Put simply, one person is killed and a chain of murders occurs over years to avenge each previous death. Families live with the knowledge the vendetta will reach the men in their family. It is only a matter of time until just the females remain; the families honour their only solace. This is the bleak world where the story of obsessive love between Lina and Damek takes place. The wrongful nature of vendetta parallels with Lina, as a witch she is under threat the entire course of the book. Had she been born a man she would have been both accepted and revered. Though not the narrator, Lina is ever the centre of attention but would be nothing without her Damek.

Although it sounds as depressing as the original, the characters and beautiful prose make this, in my opinion, a more enjoyable read than the classic.

Title: Black Spring
Author: Alison Croggon
ISBN: 9781406339581
Published: 2012
Publisher: Walker Books Australia

 - Harriet, Point Chevalier Library

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