Burnt Island by Alice Thompson

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Burnt Island is steeped in self-awareness, as a book about the process and effect of writing might be...


For disillusioned author Max Long, the offer of a writing-fellowship on the mysterious-sounding 'Burnt Island' is a godsend. Max is determined that, inspired by his tenure on this windswept outpost, he will produce every writer's dream - the bestseller. And this time, he plans to subvert his usual genre and write a horror story. But upon arrival, Max's fantasies of hermetic island life are overturned when he encounters a potential rival living in close proximity - the famously reclusive James Fairfax, author of the internationally-lauded novel, Lifeblood. Fairfax's critical and financial success with Lifeblood, coupled with his refusal to court the limelight, has long been the talk of the literary circles. However, as the lives of the two men become intertwined, Max cannot marry the myth of the publicity-shy Fairfax with the apparently urbane and confident reality. He begins to suspect that Fairfax is not the true author of his exceptional debut. Moreover, Max cannot escape the disturbing knowledge that Fairfax's wife has disappeared. Recently-divorced and struggling to keep a grip on his fragile mental state, the vulnerable Max finds himself sliding into Fairfax's world. And he starts to witness alarming visions that take the form of the horror he is attempting to write. Who or what is the sinister, darting figure who appears between the trees of Fairfax's garden at night? Who is the tiny, forlorn little girl who seems to need help? And what has happened to Fairfax's missing wife? With an unnerving plotline in which we encounter doppelgangers, ghostly forms and machines masquerading as humans, Burnt Island is a masterwork of subtle terror. At times evoking The Wicker Man in its growing sense of paranoia and undercurrent of eroticism, Thompson's evocative, compellingly-written story takes a grip on the reader as inexorable as that of Burnt Island on Max Long. An ironic satire on literary ambition, Thompson's sixth novel soon draws the reader into something much darker.

About Alice Thompson

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Alice Thompson is an award-winning, high-profile author with an international reach and extensive publication record as a novelist and reviewer; she is also an experienced tutor in both creative writing and literature. In the eighties she toured the world in the successful pop group The Woodentops; recorded three albums, six singles, and two videos; performed on stage and often gave interviews, both on TV and radio. This is her sixth novel.
Published May 15, 2013 by Salt Publishing. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Reviewed by John Self on May 29 2013

Burnt Island is steeped in self-awareness, as a book about the process and effect of writing might be...

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