Deep in the Yorkshire woods, Daniel is learning the beautiful and brutal nuances of life from his father, John, and older sister, Cathy. John, a man of gargantuan proportions, is a gentle soul who wants to be left alone with his children. Cathy, tiny and intense, is viciously protective, but keeps a calm façade. After a landowner comes to claim the territory, John is forced into increasingly dangerous situations that threaten the well-being of his family. As the inevitability of violence looms, Daniel stares ever harder at the father and sister who comprise his entire world, but who cannot protect him forever.

Elmet's power derives from its expert illustration of a world built on contradictions. The atmosphere is both lush and austere, the writing lyrical and simplistic, the characters violent and tender. Fiona Mozley captures the serenity of her setting while still acknowledging its jagged edges and the darkness shifting among the trees. Crafted like a series of connected short stories, the narrative maintains a hidden tension that simmers beneath the surface until it overwhelms the reader in its final, catastrophic sequence. This debut novel is notable, however, not for the shock of its climaxes, but for its focus on small moments. Its emotion resides in a scene's shuddering pauses, the quivering of a character's lip, the exhale after an intake of breath. Elmet, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is a backwoods gothic that knows better than most how to be explosive in stillness. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Powered by: Xtenit