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Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, Fiona Mozley’s Elmet is an astonishing debut novel. Fourteen-year-old Daniel enjoys a simple life with his older sister, Cathy, and their father, John. Together they live in a sequestered home in Northern England. John is an undefeated fist fighter and occasionally acts as an enforcer around town; his intimidating reputation has made him an outcast. Cathy seems to take after him; bold and fierce, she exhibits aggressive behavior, especially when provoked. Unlike his father and sister, Daniel is an introspective, sweet-tempered boy who lacks physical strength. Despite their differences, the siblings bond over roaming in the woods, shooting arrows with their handmade bows, and smoking Cathy’s hand-rolled cigarettes. Their life is relatively trouble-free until Mr. Price, the landowner of the forest in which John built their house, demands that they leave. The tension between John and Price escalates and leads to irreversible consequences.

Although set in rural Britain, there are elements in this novel that resemble Southern gothic literature. What begins as a quiet novel that analyzes character and setting ends as a punchy, searing story exploding with violence and horror. Mozley’s lyricism is magnetic, making the almost plotless book captivating. Both exquisite and ferocious, Elmet is a compelling debut that deserves to be widely read.

Reviewed By:

Author Fiona Mozley
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Algonquin Books
Publish Date 2017-Dec-05
ISBN 9781616208424
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue May 2018
Category Mystery, Crime & Thriller


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