Review – In the Night Wood

Posted September 25, 2019 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of In the Night Wood by Dale BaileyIn the Night Wood, Dale Bailey

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: literature professor is married with a kid and decides to have an affair anyway. Something terrible happens as a result, and the poor thing must live with the consequences.

Myeah, my sympathies with this book were low from the outset: infidelity is one thing I can’t really abide in most situations, and Generic Literature Professor is a wishy-washy example. He doesn’t have much strength of character to mark him out from the crowd, and he’s so forgettable I can’t remember his name and I finished this book less than an hour ago. (The back copy reminds me that the name is Charles.)

So anyway, with that set-up, Charles and Erin get a letter from England informing them that Erin is the last of a long family line, and do they want to take possession of the family house? So they go. Erin’s mental health is dreadful, and she travels with most of the contents of a pharmacy (how does she replenish her stocks when a UK doctor would not provide those meds or in that quantity? Unclear, she never sees a doctor for them) and self-medicates with wine. Charles starts to investigate the mysteries of the creepy house and surrounding wood, fails to share things with Erin, and is tempted multiple times to start affairs with every woman he meets. He’s always very aware of the scent and warmth of their skin, etc.

There are lots of rather generic ancient-fantasy-encroaching-on-reality descriptions, like this:

The present seemed to lie lightly on the land here, as though the narrow span of gray road, where the solicitor’s car hove momentarily into view at the crest of each new ridge, might simply melt away like a light dusting of snow, unveiling the bones of an older, sterner world.

This is supposed to be near Harrogate. I can assure you that Harrogate is as modern as anywhere else in Britain, and you will not melt away into a fairytale driving anywhere just outside Harrogate, especially not having just come off a busy roundabout.

Naturally, something creepy involving child sacrifice is going on, etc, etc, you’ve heard this story before.

I didn’t know how little I cared for it until I started trying to describe it. It’s not that it isn’t well written, though it ventures a tad towards the purple for something that’s describing fucking Harrogate. It’s a quick enough read, but. I… am profoundly unimpressed.

Rating: 2/5

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