‘Sandlands’ by Rosy Thornton

5 stars copy

From ghostly whisperings in a run-down Martello Tower (‘Whispers’) and the solemn toll of Old Jack’s bell in ‘Ringing Night’, to the unearthing of a strange talisman in ‘The Witch Bottle’, Rosy Thornton tells ordinary stories tinged with more than a hint of the odd and the unusual. In this magical collection of sixteen tales, she effortlessly weaves the present with the past, creating characters who leap from the page and lay their emotions on us like old friends.

Having spent a few years in Suffolk, I’m familiar with the geography and landscapes Ms Thornton’s characters inhabit, though her talent for description creates images that need no introduction – we’re right there in the scenery as if watching her stories unfold before our eyes. My first impression was of a writer who, as she says herself, has a preoccupation with nature and landscape, and while many of her stories reflect this, she also has an unerring talent for the peculiar. Her tales are beautifully crafted, moving the reader from laughter to tears in an instant and I found myself a little overawed at her ability to create such flawless prose.

Imagine writing that mixes Susan Hill and Gavin Maxwell with a hint of Edgar Allen Poe and you’ll be on the right track. This is an outstanding collection of stories from a woman who is clearly a master of the form. If Rosy Thornton doesn’t win some major literary prize very soon, I’ll be very surprised.

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