With the cold winter nights now upon, what could be better than curling up in front of a roaring fire with a nice supernatural thriller? There may be plenty of choice on offer for readers but you could do a lot worse than Phil Rickman’s ‘Candlenight’.
The story revolves around a remote Welsh village with a close-knit community that is hiding a dark secret. When this secret envelops a young couple who have decided to relocate to the village, it attracts the attention of an American journalist who is keen to discover just exactly what is going on behind the charming Welsh smiles and welcomes.
First published back in 1991, this edition has a modern new cover to give an even more spooky edge. Despite the book being written over 20 years ago, it hasn’t dated at all. There are some mentions of journalists phoning in copy which doesn’t happen much anymore plus mobile phones and the Internet are absent but the story doesn’t suffer for it at all.
The story is quite a slow build, especially when it comes to the young couple’s story. Many chapters go by with just a few hints of the darkness to come. It’s a nice pace for a supernatural story but I could probably have done without a few of Welsh lessons that the couple have with local school teacher Bethan McQueen, who has also been a victim of the village’s secret. There are various strands that tie in nicely to bring the characters together in this tiny little village that most people would normally have no business visiting.
That’s not to say everything about ‘Candlenight’ is perfect. Some of the characters could do with some tweaking while others could have been done away with altogether. The beautifully-named lead character, Berry Morelli, has a lot of angst for no good reason although making him an American is an interesting choice that adds to the rural xenophobia as an outsider. His sometimes-girlfriend, actress Miranda Moore-Lacey, seems to be only included to insult or sleep with the other characters. In some cases, both. I could have easily done without her and give more time to Berry Morelli or Bethan McQueen.
This is the type of story that one could easily see being made into a Sunday evening drama by ITV (that’s a compliment by the way). It’s an old-fashioned ghost story with some very creepy moments that will stay with you, especially on those stormy winter nights.
(pub: Corvus Books. 500 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-85789-694-0)
check out websites: www.corvus-books.co.uk