Wylding Hall – by Elizabeth Hand
Why I read: Book club pick
Select Quote “ But there was a feeling we all had that we were in a magic place, and we wanted to make the most of it. And we were young, so our powers of recovery were remarkable. We could drink all night, smoke till the house was spinning, do the odd bit of windowpane or blotter, busk at the pub if we needed a bit of ready cash for groceries, and still pop up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and hop down to the living room, strap on our mighty axes, and get to work. ”
Book blurb: “When the young members of a British acid-folk band are compelled by their manager to record their unique music, they hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient country house with dark secrets. There they create the album that will make their reputation, but at a terrifying cost: Julian Blake, the group’s lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen or heard from again.
Now, years later, the surviving musicians, along with their friends and lovers—including a psychic, a photographer, and the band’s manager—meet with a young documentary filmmaker to tell their own versions of what happened that summer. But whose story is true? And what really happened to Julian Blake??”
A haunting story about the disappearance of Julian Blake, lead singer of an Acid-folk band. “When he was young, Julian was almost unearthly; he was so handsome, it was difficult for me at first to keep my eyes from him. Spooky beautiful.” Jon. The band are sent by their manager to Wylding Hall, an old gothic house which is remote and in disrepair in order to create their album without distractions but strange events unfold. Some years later the people involved meet with a film maker to tell what happened at Wylding Hall.
The story has an interesting structure and is set out in the form of interviews with the various people who were present at the time including the musicians, manager a psychic and a photographer. This tells the tale from many different points of view with each person giving their own thoughts and opinions of what happened in Wylding Hall. However sometimes you couldn’t distinguish which character you were reading as some were similar.
It beautifully entwines music, spookiness and subcultures as the main tale is set in the 70s folk scene. I loved the British feel and references that speckled the book. There is a sprinkle of folktales that add to the creepiness. The atmosphere of the book is more of a mild subtle spookiness, than horror. Personally I would have preferred more creepiness and some more explanation and horror at the end as it is quite ambiguous. Although I found the end a bit disappointing it was still a wonderfully written tale.
I really wanted to listen to this bands music – especially their haunting folk sounds played out in the garden. So I wish there was an audio-file to accompany the book to further set the atmosphere.
Its a nice quick easy read at under 200 pages, giving a 70s twist on the traditional gothic ghost story.
Id recommend to fans of band bibliographies, gothic ghost stories and mystery.