1906: A large manor house, Wake's End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he's an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake's End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud's mother dies in childbirth and she's left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud's isolation drives her to her father's study, where she happens upon his diary.
During a walk through the local church yard, Edmund spots an eye in the undergrowth. His terror is only briefly abated when he discovers its actually a painting, a 'doom', taken from the church. It's horrifying in its depiction of hell, and Edmund wants nothing more to do with it despite his historical significance. But the doom keeps returning to his mind. The stench of the Fen permeates the house, even with the windows closed. And when he lies awake at night, he hears a scratching sound – like claws on the wooden floor...
Wakenhyrst is a terrifying ghost story, an atmospheric slice of gothic, a brilliant exploration of the boundaries between the real and the supernatural, and a descent into the mind of a psychopath.
Michelle Paver (born 1960) is a novelist. Her ongoing six-book series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, set in the pre-agricultural Stone Age, has earned her notable popularity.
Michelle Paver was born in Malawi (central Africa); her mother was Belgian and her South African father ran a modest newspaper, the Nyasaland Times. She moved to the United Kingdom when she was three, where she grew up in Wimbledon and was educated at Lady Margaret Hall. After reading biochemistry at the University of Oxford, where she attained a first-class degree, she became a partner in a City law firm. Her father's death in 1996 prompted her to take a one-year sabbatical, during which she travelled around France and America, and wrote her first book, "Without Charity". She resigned from legal practice soon after her return, to concentrate on writing.