Happy New Year! Though terribly busy with work and teaching, I’ve just finished an excellent read that I’d very much like to share with diggers and non-diggers alike. The novel is called Skendleby, it is written by Nick Brown, a UK based author, instructor and archaeologist. While eager to share the details, I’ll do my best to avoid spoiling the plot while still enticing you to chase down a copy of the book.
In a nutshell, Skendleby is a haunting archaeological adventure set on the plains of Cheshire. What begins as a routine CRM dig turns rather quickly into a horror laced mystery with a crew of cursed shovelbums and a vengeful mystical force at the very center. At 237 pages, it is a quick but plot-packed read. It avoids the pitfalls of most current horror literature, mainly predictability.
While Skendleby is written by an archaeologist, it isn’t necessarily written for archaeologists. Brown successfully manages to splice just the right amount of technicality into his work to keep a professional interested, while dodging hang ups on the minute details of stratigraphic profiles and radiocarbon dating that may alienate someone unfamiliar with archaeological fieldwork. Truth be told, the fact that the story centers around a group of archaeologists is just a bonus. This is a novel that any fan of horror could enjoy.
I have only two gripes. First, I wish the book had been longer. Like I said, it was a quick read and the story was great; I could have stayed in that world a bit longer. Second, some of the characters lack being memorable. This doesn’t in any way affect the plot, just something I wanted to point out and maybe something that could have taken care of gripe number one. Fortunately, Brown manages to form a close-knit group of central characters (some likable, some loath-able) that kept the story moving and my interest peaked up to the final page.
I’m anxious for more by Brown. As I write this I’m about sixty pages deep into Luck Bringer, his first novel centered around the Persian Empire. According to his website, Skendleby is part of a planned Ancient Gramarye series, so I kindly request that he get to work on the next in the series.