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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  474 ratings  ·  171 reviews
1906: A large manor house, Wake's End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he's an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake's End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud's mother dies ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 11th 2019 by Head of Zeus
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4.12  · 
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 ·  474 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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This is a glorious piece of Edwardian gothic historical fiction from Michelle Paver, it has elements of horror and madness, set in the remote village of Wakenhyrst, surrounded by the fens of Suffolk at the start of the 20th century. The isolated manor house of Wake's End is owned by local landowner, historian and scholar Edmund Stearne, in the midst of Guthlaf's fen, an area bursting with superstitions, folklore, myths and legends, of the dreaded 'fen tigers' a savage people doctoring their 'agu ...more
Dannii Elle
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

This is the perfect atmospheric read to accompany these gloomy winter evenings.

The Gothic wildness of the fens is almost untouched by the heft of man that seems to be overtaking the rest of the world. It is a place undisturbed, expect by undefinable shrieks at night, the ghosts of superstition and folklore, and one lone mansion that borders the wilderness. Inside this house, the occupants largely attempt to exist in total disconnection with the fens but something about
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was such a treat! Gothic suspense, the creepy fens, insanity...everything I could have wished for. Maud was a fantastic character, idiosyncratic, feisty, intelligent battling against the history and the superstitions of Wakenhyrst and her father. Her deep love of the fens, of Chatterpie, of Clem made her such a sympathetic character and pulled at my heart strings.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed, “Dark Matter,” and “Thin Air,” I was delighted to receive Michelle Paver’s new novel, to review.

The story begins in 1966, with the discovery of three paintings, by Edmund Stearne, which have taken the art world by storm. Edmund Stearne was committed to an asylum, where he created his only artworks and now a reporter wants to unearth the story behind the paintings. In order to do so, Paver takes us back to 1913, and a house on the Fens…

This is a wonderfully Gothic novel, which ha
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A creepy gothic whydunnit, set in the fens of Suffolk, Wakenhyrst is gripping from the first page. This is a story of obsession, madness, delusion, superstition.

Wakenhyrst mostly takes place in the early 20th century, just prior to the first World War, and combines creepy medieval church art; old religious notions of witchcraft, demonic possession, and saintly miracles; lingering pagan superstitions (leaving a bowl of bread and milk at the door, for witches); a creaky old manor house; the eer
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
It was not me who discovered Michelle Paver about five years ago, but my daughter when she pulled “The Wolf Brothers” off the shelf at our local library and then read all six books of the “Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” in short succession. So you may forgive me, that I had Michelle Paver down as a middle grade author until I saw Wakenhyrst on the shelf at the same library but this time in the adult section of “new and notable releases”. The magpie on the cover sealed the deal, because I adore ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

I loved the intro of the book, it was so interesting with the article about Maud's father. Then, the story went back in time to when Maud was growing up and I just felt that the story turned more and more boring to listen to (I picked the audiobook version). It came to a point when I just felt that enough is enough. I'm not that interesting in Maud's childhood and youth and her feelings for the young gardener. Her father's diary notes are not rocking my boat. I'm just not the right reader so
Bill Lynas
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dark Matter & Thin Air were both excellent ghost stories from the very talented Michelle Paver. Here is her third adult novel (having also written Young Adult books) which takes us away from the frozen settings of her previous stories & gives us England in the early 20th century.
Maud is a young girl, living with her repressive father (after her mother dies) in a house on the Suffolk Fens. She is a beautifully drawn character, as are her father & the servants occupying their house. P
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wakenhyrst has been a long time in the making, so I was hoping it would live up to my expectations, but it absolutely blew me away and exceeded them beyond what I could ever have realistically imagined. It's a darkly gothic historical tale rich in its imagery and the creepy atmosphere Paver creates in the setting of a haunted manor house is deliciously oppressive. This is essentially a gothic mystery with a dual timeline set in 1913 and 1966 and explores the themes of witchcraft and the dangerou ...more
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, stars-4-0
Having loved Paver’s previous ghost stories, I was very much looking forward to this new story. It didn’t disappoint!

Once more, the author goes for a gothic feel, even using a frame to her narrative in the shape of a newspaper article bringing back to the fore the infamous case of a certain Edmund Stearne who killed a worker and was as a result declared insane. Journalist Patrick Rippon succeeds in getting an interview with Stearne’s daughter, now in her old age, and gets an account of the event
Victoria Gilbert
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it

Firstly thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC of this book. Having read Pavers other work, I was very much looking forward to this one.

As with Pavers other work the location is a character in itself. The Fens are perfectly described and she evokes the terrible and dangerous yet beautiful and bewitching atmosphere of this place.

I found the main character of Maud impressive in how she finds her strength in adversity. The demeaning and belittling lives of Female Edwardian women i
Michelle Paver does it again. This time we're firmly in Gothic mystery territory with creepy goings on in a mansion in the Suffolk fens during the first years of the 19th century. This book is steeped in atmosphere as well as the stench and slime of the fen itself, a place loathed by Maud's father but adored by Maud herself. The psychology of both characters is the subject here and it's engrossing as well as beautifully depicted. This is a place barely touched by the outside world. Superstitions ...more
Joanna Halpin
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I absolutely loved this. Read it in a day. I do think Paver is an underrated master of this genre. Unlike other authors and novels of recent years, Paver never loses her grip on the reader or the urgency of the story. She ratchets up the tension and curiosity of the plot with beautiful sentences and asides and the final turn of the screw is just brilliant. Her descriptions of nature and the bleak beauty of the Fens is breath taking. I also loved the strange details of what Maud ate for lunc ...more
Bill Kupersmith
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At her scariest, Michelle Paver is about the most frightening contemporary English ghost story writer out there. Dark Matter presents the ultimate horror of being alone in the long frozen polar night. Thin Air, set in the Himalayas, didn’t quite work for me, but I may return it. With Wakenhyrst, Paver reverts to a more domestic setting, East Anglia, shortly before the Great War. Owing especially to M. R. James and more recent contributions by Susan Hill, the fen country is probably the spookiest ...more
Michelle Paver has written two successful YA fantasy series: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness and Gods and Warriors. She has also published two chilling ghost novels for adults: Thin Air (which I greatly enjoyed reading just over a year ago) and Dark Matter (which I’m yet to read but is, according reviewers I respect, just as brilliant). Both are built on a similar premise – individuals in eerie, extreme landscapes, whether Himalayan peaks or the expanse of the Arctic, start losing their grip on r ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
* read an uncorrected proof copy *

i’m working in a bookshop today. i came in, i turned the lights on. i set the till up. i sat down and i looked outside. it’s a miserable day. the opposite of yesterday’s glorious sunshine; it’s grey and cold and raining. not quite stormy but yeah, almost. the potential is there. there will be very few customers walking through the doors today. i made myself some coffee, i got comfortable, i picked up wakenhyrst. i didn’t put it down.

this is an excellent read. it
It's the 1960s and Maud is being asked about her life as a young girl at Wake's End in the early 20th . She talks of her European mother impregnated every year and her strict religious father obsessed with his work as a medieval historian. There are hints to something darker, secrets of her father and a murder that happened when she was 16. This is billed as a tale of terror but the only terror was the awful misogyny of the time period. This was a bit of a slow burner as it took a while for anyt ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A Dark atmospheric story, set in the fans of Suffolk. We learn at the beginning of the story that Maud's father, Edward Sterne, went mad and killed someone in a very gruesome manner when she was a teenager. He was sent to an asylum where he started to paint images of demons which went on to become famous. A reporter is trying to find out about the background of these paintings, and the events surrounding his incarceration. Maud has hidden herself away from society ever since that day and the rep ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Medieval demons and Edwardian doom...

Young Maud Stearne is a lonely child, growing up in an old house in the midst of the Suffolk fens in the early 20th century. Her strict and domineering father doesn’t have much love or time for any of his children, especially his daughter, and her mother is almost permanently pregnant, though most of those pregnancies don’t come to term. Edmund Stearne, her father, is searching for a book rumoured to have been written by a medieval mystic, the Book of Alice P
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First of all, thank you Head of Zeus for sending me a (signed!) advanced proof of this book, because I just know I would have struggled embarrassingly hard if I'd had to wait until the release date in April. Michelle Paver's adult novels (particularly Dark Matter) are some of my favourite books, and I wasn't sure if this would live up to them. Boy, was I wrong.

Paver herself has said this is the best book she's ever written, and no wonder. This book somehow fits the perfect niche of 'familiar ye
Pam Tickner
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A true gothic horror story. I loved the journal entry style of story telling and was hooked at the start, however, I felt the book lost its way in the middle third and I considered giving up as Maud's story became repetitive and her father was just too awful, the story stalled for me, however I'm glad I persevered as once father started descending into madness the story really developed into a medieval nightmare.
Roman Clodia
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
After loving Paver's Dark Matter and Thin Air, this book didn't work so well for me. The two earlier books were tight and ambiguous, and because we only saw the story through one set of eyes we were left hovering deliciously on that edge between haunting or a form of madness. Plus they were shivering-scary.

This feels more laboured, with a constant switching between narratives: Paver's strengths show in Edmund Stearne's diary - the gradual revelations, the disintegrating mind. But alternating thi
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maud is growing up in Edwardian Suffolk, in the small village of Wakenhyrst, next to one of the few remaining patches of fen that survived the drainages of the early modern period (a landscape which is clearly based on Wicken Fen). Maud's mother is downtrodden by her abusive father, Edmund, forced into an endless cycle of pregnancy, child-bearing and miscarriage. Paver's powerful writing uncomfortably conveys how Edmund's patriarchal world-view is enforcing similar norms upon the teenage Maud, b ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant I loved it. Reminded me somewhat of The Essex Serpent. Review to follow later.
[Correct pagecount 359, not 304.]

This is not a horror novel about ghosts, or witches, or devils. At least, not the supernatural kind, not truly.

This is a horror novel about being a woman.

Specifically Edwardian women, though ofc misogyny and abusive families are timeless. The female characters in Wakenhyrst have no human rights, nothing of their own, not even their names.
Recently, Maud had been startled to learn [...] that her mother's name had not in fact been Dorothy, as she'd always believed.
Rachel Bridgeman
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: april-2019
This is absolutely splendid!

With breathtaking story lines and rich, gothic imagery, Michelle Paver has created a fable that is both modern and timeless at the same time.

It starts in the 1960's, with 3 paintings by historian Edward Stearne, committed to an asylum for an unspeakable crime, and his daughter Maud, relentlessly reclusive, living in the family mansion who finally decides to tell her story.

Going back to the beginning of the 20th century, the novel then paints a picture of the subjugati
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Edwardian Suffolk is when it all begins. A painted medieval doll is found in the graveyard and something has been awakened. Well what can I say I was hooked from the first page and spent most of my time sat on the edge of my seat and at times holding my breath. It got my heart racing and tapping my kindle faster and faster. I was reading this book late into the night and I must stress with all the lights on and listening for strange noises. This book is so good it gave me goosebumps on my ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent blend of gothic, historical and crime fiction, which brilliantly evokes the Suffolk fens in the early 20th century. Maud grows up in an isolated household, run by her manipulative and misogynistic father Edward, who is researching a medieval mystic when he discovers a 'doom' - a medieval church fresco depicting the horrors of hell. But why did he commit murder? As well as being a compelling story with strong characters, it also has a lot to say about the difficulty of being ...more
Andy Weston
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I’ve enjoyed Paver’s earlier books but found this much harder work, but accept I’m not really her target audience.
On the surface it’s an appealing premise, a gothic story of the Fens, based around its folklore and set in the 1920s. Instead of the sort of writing Paver has favoured before though, with strong influences from M.R. James and Dickens, she decides to concentrate more on domestic life in the Wakenhyst house and the story becomes more of a type of Upstairs Downstairs. The few moments o
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Set in the darkly atmospheric Suffolk Fens this page-turning novel is a tale of obsession, guilt, religious fervour and the oppression of the female sex. At the heart of it stands Maud, a wonderful character who will linger in my mind for days to come. Filled with suspense and mystery this is a captivating and haunting book which will keep you reading into the wee small hours, whilst listening VERY careful for strange noises!
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Michelle Paver was born in Central Africa, but came to England as a child. After gaining a degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University, she became a partner in a City law firm, but eventually gave that up to write full-time.

The hugely successful Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series arose from Michelle's lifelong passion for animals, anthropology and the distant past - as as well as an encounter
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