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Book Review: "The Haar: A Horror Novel" by David Sodergren

5/5 - a highly effective modern folk horror...

By Annie KapurPublished 2 months ago • 4 min read
From: X

Muriel Margaret McAuley was eighty-four years old the first time she saw a man turned inside-out by a sea monster. You might think it would bother a woman of her age, but, as Muriel was fond of saying, she had seen a lot in her eighty-four short years.

- The Haar: A Horror Novel by David Sodergren

Having heard of the writer, but not really thinking I had read anything by him - this was an easy choice of read. I had actually realised a little after reading this book that he was the author of another great horror called The Forgotten Island and I had read him before. I was almost tempted by the words 'Folk Horror' in big, bold lettering in one of the reviews I saw. Though, I have to say, I had been planning to read this since the start of the year. Again, appearing on my Amazon Recommendations, this book stood out to me and affirmed by belief that the algorithms were at their usual business. Folk horror, gore, monsters and urban legends... anyways, let's get on with it, shall we?

The book starts off with an introduction to a woman named Muriel. She's in her 80s and her husband has been dead for more than a decade. However, a billionaire wants to buy her land. She says no and threatens the woman who the billionaire sent to bargain for it. Oh, and she has seen someone turned inside-out by a sea monster. She is described as having a strong stomach after, in the 60s, she went to help with a ship that crashed into the coast, lugging out bodies that were mangled and in pieces. When the issue of selling land is discussed in a meeting of residents, Muriel puts her foot down, but one couple shocks her by packing up and selling out. And then, something much weirder happens to her and, as she begins to lose her land, she sees a creature...

From: Horror Obsessive

I think I was far more surprised about what happened to Arthur and Tommy (especially Tommy because why would you even write something like that, what's wrong with you, David Sodergren?) but honestly, this book kept getting better and better. It was truly quite horrifying and yet, I couldn't stop reading it. Intense and wild, it went on burning for as long as possible. This creature is not just any creature but it is one horrifying, weird and just plain strange thing that manages to get vengeance whilst also inflicting terror.

What happens in the rest of the book is pretty disgusting, gory and terrifying. The descriptions though they are well-written are often a little bit over the top with a lot of attention paid to the destruction of the extremeties and I don't know whether that is good for modern horror or not. Honestly, I am not going to take any of the marks away for this because it is not something I have read a lot of since I read Poppy Z Brite's Exquisite Corpse. Honestly though, some of it was used tastefully, I mean, as tasteful as you can get about people being slowly eaten alive.

The story is also fairly interesting. It is not too complicated and it has the whole 'good for her' horror storyline down to the absolute essentials. It is very clearly inspired by folkish themes, symbols and characteristics and has a lot in common with some Stephen King novels I have read: especially Dreamcatcher. It reminded me a lot of that one. The ideals around the 'folk horror' seem to encompass the small-town supernatural tastes rather than the actual gore. That, I think was a good choice as it made the book feel much more intense and dark rather than just inspiring the 'transformative' scenes of blood and death. The folk aspects are much deeper than that.

All in all, I found this book to be an excellent example of folk, supernatural and modernist horror all blended into one. Well-written and captivating, it showcases some intense themes around multiple different topics, the folk aspects playing key roles in the actual story rather than just the violent scenes. I was honestly surprised that I liked this novel so much as I had been putting it off, but I will be seeking out more novels by this author from this day onwards. He has proven to be a very effective author.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

đź“ŤBirmingham, UK

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  • Skyler Saunders2 months ago

    Approached with calmness and thorough depiction, this review gives the reader enough tidbits to discover the book and make up her own mind about the gory details and folk horror descriptions.

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