On a shingle island, a figure called the Armourer is at work. He is standing in the Green chapel and is assisted by the Engineer, the botanist the physicist and the ornithologist. He is invoking the Firing song, a dark ceremony that will bring destruction. Five human-like forms are converging on the Green Chapel and are intent on stopping him.

She makes green & green fills the air around her & warps hard into objects within her radiance.

There is Drift, who is a world shaper, He who is water, She who is earth, They who are rock and As who is the very air around. They are moving through land, sea, time and space to the Green Chapel where they will become one, where they will become Ness. They want their island back.

Listen. Listen now. Listen to Ness

This is a stunning if slender book. It is part story and part poem, with taut writing that writhes with dark metaphor. Macfarlane takes familiar tropes from folk horror, dystopia, science fiction and drapes them over this unreal landscape to make a thriller that is as troubling as it is surreal. A hagstone allowing a glimpse of the future and the past separate each section. This unreal landscape of shifting shingle and harsh military structures is bought to chilling life by the stunning art from Donwood that captures the eeriness of the place. Very highly recommended.

Paul Cheney 5/4

Ness by Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood
Hamish Hamilton 9780241396568 hbk Nov 2019