It is a regular commuter village sixty odd miles from the capital. All sorts of mixed housing, a pub and a church and people trying to go about their lives as normally as possible. In this village lives a young lad called Lanny, who is not quite the same as other children his age. He seems to have a close affinity to the natural world, spending most of his time outdoors. His mother thinks the world of him, seeing his funny little ways as a charming thing, whereas his father struggles to deal with him.

Lanny’s creative side is channelled by a neighbour called Pete who is an artist who sees the potential that he has.Then there is Dead Papa Toothwort. In this place, he is as old as time. He is the very essence of the land that the village sits in, he feels it every time they cut the soil to build, and watches as the village celebrates him by dressing up and the pictures that they try to recreate. He has seen the death of thousands of living beings. He is known as the Green Man now, but there is nothing benign about him. He listens to the words the people say in the village, they wash over him like rain, but he has heard Lanny’s songs and it has awoken something in him. Then one day, Lanny disappears…

And I am not going to say any more than that, as I think you all should read it and make your own minds up. The book is split into three parts, the first is a whimsical introduction to the main characters. The second is as fast-paced as anything that I have ever read and the final part is dramatic, surreal and shocking. It is a story deeply rooted in the folklore of the landscape as well as brushing the edges of folk horror. I liked Porter’s first book, Grief is a Thing with Feathers, but to my mind, this book is better than that. It has a much stronger plot, vivid characters and a dark undercurrent that pulls it all together. Great stuff.

Paul Cheney 4/4

Lanny by Max Porter
Faber & Faber 9780571340286 hbk Mar 2019