Author: Robert Holdstock
Title: The Fetch
Edition: Warner Books, Paperback
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I really liked the atmosphere, the wealth of mythical and historical references.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.