Wednesday, 2 January 2013
'Brodmaw Bay' by F.G Cottam
"Brodmaw Bay seems to be the perfect refuge for James Greer and his family. When his young son is the victim of a brutal mugging, Greer wants to leave London - the sooner the better - for the charming old-fashioned fishing port he has just discovered.
But was finding Brodmaw Bay more than a happy accident? What is the connection between the village and his beautiful wife? When his friendly new neighbours say they'd welcome some new blood - in a village where the same families seem to have lived for generations - are they telling the whole truth?
Perhaps the village isn't so much welcoming them as luring them. To something ancient and evil. As it has lured others before . . . "
Between Christmas and New Year I read this novel - by a British horror writer completely new to me, F. G Cottam. It's a proper supernatural thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are overtones of The Wicker Man and The Shining - and any number of 1970s / 80s New English Library paperbacks.
Cottam gives us an extremely good sense of place - in both London and the remote, sheltered Cornwall town. James Greer and his family are very well drawn, I think - and we come to care for them and their inevitable predicament, almost despite the odds. The problem with them is that they're all to *good* at what they do. (I'm *almost* reminded of that nauseatingly smug family in Ian McEwan's 'Saturday.') Mother's a brilliantly successful illustrator, father has developed an innovative computer game that might well 'go global' and the son is an amazing footballer. Is it wrong for the reader to start wanting dreadful things to happen to them..?
Despite all that - and the stress on material goods and status - i was drawn in, and wanted their coastal idyll to work out for them. But we know it's going to go to the bad. There are some marvellously creepy characters they meet down in Cornwall. Brodmaw Bay is like a little, frozen world of its own - ruled over by a raddled Rock God and his fey, folk-singing wife. And there are some genuinely creepy moments - featuring the ghost of a school girl and the 'Harbingers' - ethereal creatures who dwell in the town's deconsecrated church.
Like a proper thriller, the plot gathers momentum quickly and the ending is all about James' attempt to get back to the town in time to save his family. I felt that maybe the truth of what was going on gets delivered up too quickly and easily (the old, rediscovered journal ploy!) and maybe the climax is a bit too zippy and action-packed.
But even so, it kept me sitting still - completely riveted - in the quiet days before New Year's Eve. It's definitely made me want to read more F. G Cottam.