Robert Holdstock, The Fetch (1991)

Author: Robert Holdstock

Title: The Fetch

Edition: Warner Books, Paperback


Pages: 376

Robert Holdstock was a distinguished British writer whom I already reviewed once. His Mythago Woods is a great, if a bit rough, journey through the world of Celtic – and earlier – myths connected in a very real way to a modern (well, post-II WW anyway) world. Mythago… is a first part of the Ryhope Woods cycle, whereas The Fetch is a stand-alone novel, but we stay in the general area of myths, archetypes, and British countryside. But while the previous one was scary at times, Fetch could well be called a horror story. I could see it being adapted to the big screen (or Netlix 😉 ) as a classical horror with an Omen vibe (without Christian references).

Of course, crossing genre boundaries is a very good thing to do. In literature, as in many other areas of human activity, some of the most interesting things are created in the border areas, where various styles and influences meet. Calmgrove recently published a post around Diana Wynne Jones’ quotes on how genres limit the creative faculties of writers. I totally agree!

So, anyway, this is a story about a strange, adopted (under mysterious, shady circumstances!) boy whose strange connection to another reality brings chaos to the life of his new family. In a pretty spectacular way that would look good in visual media…

There is a landscape between reality and dreams, a strange and primitive country that exists upon the edge of our waking world. Michael Whitlock knows that country well. His best friends lives there…

and they sometimes let him fetch things from other times and places. This allows author to add bits and pieces of multiple epochs and mythologies, and a disturbing version of the quest for Holy Grail. But, just as much, it is a novel about damaged family relations, bad parents and misunderstood, neglected children. And greed.

It’s not perfect, and I actually prefer Mythago, perhaps because I’m unable to discover how misspelled Welsh names were there ;). The whole black market subplot was unconvincing for me, barely sketched out and serving mainly as a plot device.

I really liked the atmosphere, the wealth of mythical and historical references. I uphold my recommendation, Holdstock was a very interesting writer.

Score: 7/10

18 thoughts on “Robert Holdstock, The Fetch (1991)

  1. I agree this would make an excellent film or tv mini-series, lots of opportunities for tension and SFX, and lots of threads to enrich the plotting. True, it’s not perfect but oddly it’s a novel I would read again, though not in a hurry! Glad you enjoyed it though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read any Holdstock, but this sounds interesting (and that cover art! My husband will go wild for that cover!) as does Mythago Wood … off to investigate. And thank you – my horizons broaden yet again. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. piotrek

      Well, thank you 🙂 personally, I’d recommend Mythago for starters, but this is also worth reader’s time. The cover catches attention, I’m a bit conflicted about it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve made me curious about the Mythago Woods since you gave it such a good score in a previous post. If it would have been available in Kindl Unlimited I would have downloaded it. Now I’ll have my way to the library to get a hard copy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. piotrek

      Well, myself I bought a pre-owned copy for a penny and posting costs, it felt good as an old paperback, just as I picture it as a 80-ties kind of horror 🙂


    1. piotrek

      Diana Wynne Jones is not only a great writer, but also a very aware of rules of writing. Her Tough Guide to Fantasy Land is such a wonderful satire on limitations of classical fantasy genre 🙂


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