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Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country

Narrated by: Sam Woolf
Length: 10 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

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Summary

In his late 30s, Edward Parnell found himself trapped in the recurring nightmare of a family tragedy. For comfort, he turned to his bookshelves, back to the ghost stories that obsessed him as a boy, and to the writers through the ages who have attempted to confront what comes after death.

In Ghostland, Parnell goes in search of the ‘sequestered places’ of the British Isles, our lonely moors, our moss-covered cemeteries, our stark shores and our folkloric woodlands. He explores how these landscapes conjured and shaped a kaleidoscopic spectrum of literature and cinema, from the ghost stories and weird fiction of M. R. James, Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood to the children’s fantasy novels of Alan Garner and Susan Cooper; from W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn and Graham Swift’s Waterland to the archetypal ‘folk horror’ film The Wicker Man....

Ghostland is Parnell’s moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists - and what is haunting him. It is a unique and elegiac meditation on grief, memory and longing, and of the redemptive power of stories and nature.

©2019 Edward Parnell (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Ghostland is a delicious, creepy, gothic gazetteer to a British landscape filled with folkloric, literary and filmic spirits, avian auguries, and natural history and a deeply touching personal grief that speaks to the hauntedness of childhood memory and teenage dreams. Obsessive, possessive, nostalgic, an act of vivid retrieval - this is a uniquely strange and wonderful work of literature." (Philip Hoare)

"A marvellous blend of travel writing, history and grief memoir, Ghostland provides not only a seance with the author’s lost family, but also a premonition of his dazzling literary future." (Paul Willetts, author of Members Only, filmed as The Look of Love) 

"A skillful and intriguing weaving together, less of haunted houses as of haunted people, including MR James, Alan Garner, W G Sebald and the author himself, in places where the past has left its mark." (George Szirtes, author of The Photographer at Sixteen

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    2 out of 5 stars

Im not sure what kind of book this is.

This is just sort of a self indulgent list of books and short, unnconnected and uninteresting facts about them and the authors. There's nothing to tie the narrative together.

4 people found this helpful

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Magnificent moving and insightful

An Autobiographical guide book to wyrd Britain achingly sad but beautiful it will reignite your love of Britain's wilder places and the myths and legends of its counties it will remind you of books you've read films and tv series you remember and introduce a few of both that you don't . It will cause sorrow but is not maudlin it is magick . The audible performance is excellent too.

3 people found this helpful

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ghost stories, biography and natural world

some great ideas for future reads here.
very sad.
lovely observations of the natural world.

5 people found this helpful

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A thoughtful, touching and enchanting book.

Tormented by the nightmare of a family tragedy, Edward Parnell retreats into the ghost stories that entertained him as a boy. Embarking on a search for the authors, places and images from those stories, he travels across Britain, exploring the tales of a host of writers, including MR James, Algernon Blackwood, Lucy Boston and Graham Swift.

This is a fascinating and beautifully written book about a man exploring loss, memory, life and death, encountering tales of folklore, horror and fantasy and how and why they came to be written. Though it may not appeal quite so much to non-British readers, this book is nevertheless a captivating and thoroughly absorbing read that not only highlighted many of my own favourite authors but introduced me to several others.

A thoughtful, touching and enchanting book.

1 person found this helpful

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beautiful, eldritch, fascinating and devastating

beautiful, eldritch, fascinating and devastatingly sad. a haunting and achingly sad book. very good indeed.

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Can't access audible

I've given up trying to listen to this because after 20 minutes I can't find Audible to even listen to it. Will not be taking out a Audible sub.

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Best book I've listened to in ages

Hugely sad in places but so interesting too. Well read by SW. Connection with my own life all too real.

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Elegy for stories landscapes and family memories

An evocative book, tracing the places that inspired or were lived in by storytellers like MR James among many other authors of the uncanny, woven in with memories of his family and holidays . A story of ghosts in more than one sense. if you are keen on birdwatching, which I can't claim to be, you will get even more from the book as bird sightings feature a good deal in the travels.

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Heartbreakingly beautiful and informative

This book was nothing like how thought it would be and I loved it. The narrator did a brilliant job at conveying this tale thought the authors life and losses, clad in snippets of ghostly trivia, eerie stories and walks through haunted landscapes around UK. I could not recommend this audiobook more.