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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  331 ratings  ·  49 reviews
*** Winner of The Portico Prize For Literature
*** Winner of the Northern Writers' Awards
*** Shortlisted for the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered

“Beastings is a brilliant, brutal novel, told sparsely but with huge strength. It put me in mind of the work of Ron Rash and Cormac McCarthy in its attention to landscape, and its muscular tone.” – Robert Macfarlane

“The evocation of lands
Published July 2014 by Bluemoose Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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4.21  · 
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 ·  331 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2018
Another strikingly memorable novel from the back catalogue of the prolific Myers. Unlike his two most recent books, this one is not set in Yorkshire but in the Lake District. Once again there is plenty of landscape writing but in this one both the precise geography and the time it is set in are only hinted at, though I think it is probably before the First World War, and the pass where its climactic events take place must be Kirkstone.

The three central characters are never named. One is a mute g
Alison Woodley
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had to up my rating of Beastings. I'd given it 4 stars upon finishing the book, but I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Or talking about it. So that's not just a 4 star book (in my book).
Highly recommend. Everyone should read this.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have a penchant for stories told in strong, distinctive voices using sparse, pared-back prose and Benjamin Myer’s Beastings certainly ticks all those boxes.

This simple tale is essentially a chase novel in which a priest enlists the help of a poacher to pursue a young woman who’s stolen a baby. This cat-and-mouse game occurs on foot across the wild, weather-beaten landscapes of northern England across the space of a few days. And believe me when I say it’s real heart-in-mouth stuff for all of i
Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.

At the beginning of Beastings, I enjoyed the narrative for all the reasons I expected to: its rawness, the sparse and visceral language, and a cold and bleak and painful evocation of the English landscape, portrayed with greater emphasis on its harshness and wildness than its beauty. For several chapters it's near-impossible to tell what time period the story is taking place in: could be medieval times, could be a post-apocalyptic future. Adding t
Rachel Winder
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Couldn't put down. Got my heart beating very fast at times. Will be looking out for more from Benjamin Myers.
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Categorically not one for the faint-hearted, this spare and dark story of abuse, loneliness, hunger and desperation, but brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

A mute foundling flees a loveless life of violence and drudgery, taking the baby of her employer’s with her. She sets out into the hills of the Lake District, heading for an imagined paradise where she can build a safe life for herself and the child. She’s resourceful, smart and utterly determined, underestimated by everyone around her.

Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, forests
In the past year or so I've become quite a fan of Benjamin Myers' fiction. First with his novel Pig Iron , a violently anti-pastoral story of a young man trying to lift himself above of family history and reputation in a region of England provides him belonging and oppression at once. Then it was Myers' novella Snorri & Frosti , the story of two woodcutter brothers in which language, plot, character, and place are stripped to Beckettish absurdity and abstraction but — and this is what so i ...more
Nigel Bird
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I snuff you out I will cover the heavens and all the stars will darken said the priest. And that’ll learn you.

Beastings is a mighty read. Even on a Kindle you can feel the weight of it in your hand. It tells the story of a chase across the Lake District as a priest and his poacher guide attempt to track down a young mute girl and the baby she has taken from its home.

The girl in question is escaping a history of pain and misery in the hands of her pursuer. Her life was destroyed by the pries
Andy Weston
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books difficult to fit into a category. That interests me initially. As the main character is 16 years old it could fit into the 'coming of age' genre. Certainly it is historical, and though the year is never revealed my estimate would be the early 1900's. Also it is dark, so it could go in 'noir'. The fells and weather of the eastern Lake District enhance that mood. Myers spares nothing in his descriptions in the more gruesome scenes, if which there are several.

The setting
In the dead of night a teenage girl lifts the baby she is caring for out of the cot and walks out of the house and up into the Cumbrian Hills. Her desire to be far far away from that place drives her and she has taken very little possessions and almost no protection against the elements.

When the householder discovers her absence he heads to speak to the local priest, as she came from the workhouse under his charge. The incensed priest calls on the services of the local poacher and his dog to hel
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indie-press
I needed to catch my breath before writing down my thoughts on this dark, visceral, unnerving book. This is my second book by Benjamin Myers, who I am discovering will likely be among my favorite writers.

Beastings is a timeless tale of evil. It opens with a priest and a poacher in a woods so dark they can't see their hands in front of their faces and the preacher certain he hears an infant crying, but it's not a baby, the poacher assures him, it's the awful sound of foxes mating. This unsettlin
Armel Dagorn
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Benjamin Myers’ Beastings follows the pursuit of a young mute girl and the baby she abducted by a vengeful priest and the poacher who acts as his guide through the bleak mountains of Northern England. The writing, like the landscape the novel is set in, is bare. Most characters are unnamed. The priest is “the Priest”, the poacher “the Poacher”. The girl’s name pops up at some stage, but she remains “she”, or “the girl” all the same. Likewise, we can gather that the action takes place sometime in ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
like a better cormac mccarthy, but rendered in distinctly english tones - just look at this dialogue!

...and then he spoke.

I will leave your flesh on the mountains and fill the valleys with your carcass, he said.

Yeah said the Poacher.

I will water the land with what flows from you and the river beds shall be filled with your blood.

The Poacher nodded.

He will and all.

When I snuff you out I will cover the heavens and all the stars will darken said the Priest.

And that'll learn you.

the subtlety, too -
Judy Halls
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. The narrative style with lack of punctuation makes if compelling reading and encourages reading at pace, it also adds to the strangeness of the story. Although some descriptions in the story suggest it's set in the last century, this feels like an ancient tale, as old as the hills it so brilliantly brings to life. The girl in the story could be a sheep, lost in the fells, desparately trying to find shelter but aware of the fox on its tail. The writing is visceral, and brutal in ...more
Mark Wiliamson
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This year I've read *so* many good books (not least because I'm basing my reading on recommendations made by writers on twitter) and in a year of great books this is one that really stood out (the other being The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth - which I read because Benjamin Myers was enthusing about it!)

I live in the Lake District and this book captures the language and the landscape of this area vividly. The writing draws you in - such that my reactions to some of the events were almost physical.

Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's a dark and visceral novel this. Earthy and elemental - it's so entrenched in its landscape that by the end you feel as though you have dirt under your fingernails and twigs in your hair. A gripping horror story - it's not for the faint-hearted...
Louisa Reid
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very mixed feelings about this. The writing itself is wonderful-very evocative and atmospheric. But the unmitigated evil of the church is so overwhelming that it makes the rest of the drama irrelevant. Maybe that is the point, but I found it to be less believable than a more subtle, basically more frightening evil.
Dec 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Terrific writing. Earthy and evocative.

The story reads a bit like another version of Ryan's Daughter with the priest an evil character rather than a beleagured man trying to keep everyone straight.

I felt real sympathy for the girl and the baby and her part of the narrative was the thing that kept me reading. Less intersting was the priest and the poacher and the people along the way.

This is a grim read but visceral and gripping.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, disturbing tale which might be set any time in history. I really enjoyed trying to work out where in the Lake District the Girl, the Priest and the Poacher were. And I loved the writing style: scarcely a comma to be found. Really interesting and I'll be looking out for more by Ben Myers.
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow. Will never be able to "un-read."
Darkity dark dark dark.
Really good, but guaranteed to make you squirm.
Nicholas Rombes
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really beautiful and moody writing.
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Briliant. Engrossed from start to finish.
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this - it doesn't go the way you think it's going to go, and I like that in a book. Will definitely check out his other stuff.
D.S. Rumble
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
beastings follows the flight of a young girl away from the torments and trials she has endured growing up in the hope that she can save another from the same fate. In this book faith is a malleable thing and provides aspirations and hope of deliverance for the young girl from her suffering and, by the same notion, offers excuses and self justification for her pursuer and his mania and guilt. . Along the way the characters they encounter allow the reader to explore a variety of different social m ...more
Marcus Wilson
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Benjamin Myers is a writer I have wanted to get around to reading for some time now, and I must admit I rather quite liked this book and will go and read more of his work.

Myers wears his literary influences on his sleeve, this is not a criticism I like it when I read a book and can draw comparisons with other writers. There were traces of Charles Porter, Cormac Mccarthy and David Peace to name but some that I felt he owed a debt of gratitude to in his writing. He then takes these influences and
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beastings is essentially a Southern Gothic tale transposed to Cumbria/Westmorland. A mute girl, raised in a convent, abducts a baby she has been caring for in the community and flees across the fells. The local priest, aided by a poacher and his dog, takes it upon himself to catch her.

Myers's prose is highly stylistic but nevertheless affecting, and the sense of imminent violence remains present throughout. When the violence does erupt, it is startling in its casual, even innocuous tone. Convent
Ken Punter
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent read from Benjamin Myers. The hallmark beautiful descriptions of the British countryside mixed through with dark, unbearable cruelty. A story that grabs you by the collar and drags you through the Lake District landscape.

With faint echos of Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road', this is a story of the pursuit of a teenage girl, with abducted baby, by a priest and poacher. A tale of oppression, abuse, kindness, hope, despair and injustice.

Thanks to the Guardian for getting me into Mr Mye
Nick Swarbrick
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The bleakest of Ben Myers’ books in many ways, a complex thread of chase novel where a demonic priest pursues a runaway from his orphanage across the Lakeland fells.
As always, Ben Myers’ evocation of landscape is vivid, his view of tragedy and violence unflinching, his depiction of much of humanity relentlessly misanthropic. This narrative is different, however, because of the brave choice of attaching story and characters to the single pursuit of the girl. Myers is spare in digression, which m
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
So compelling, I read it in one overnight sitting!

The most useful review of this book I've read saw it as a transposition of Southern Gothic into the north of England, and that characterisation isn't far off the mark. What it plays down is the savagery of the natural landscape within which Beastings is set. The fells and the tarns are part of the story.

The way we project human emotions onto 'nature' is a great theme of the book, and the capriciousness of human behaviour and motivations is shown
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Benjamin Myers was born in Durham, UK, in 1976.

He is an award-winning author and journalist.

His next novel The Offing will be published by Bloomsbury in August 2019.

His latest book, Under The Rock, a work of non-fiction, is published May 2018.

Recipient of the Roger Deakin Award, his novel The Gallows Pole was published to acclaim in 2017 and was winner of the Walter Scott Prize 2018 - the world's
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“The girl was not afraid of ghosts or spectres; neither apparitions nor jack o’ lanterns black dogs boggles wraiths or the green men that were said to stalk the woods and hollows and fells of the north country. Those that the other girls had told tales of. No. It was people that made her fearful.” 0 likes
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