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Summary

By the best-selling author of Dark Matter and Thin Air, an outstanding new piece of storytelling, a tale of mystery and imagination laced with terror. It is a masterwork in the modern Gothic tradition that ranges from Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Neil Gaiman and Sarah Perry. 

Something has been let loose....

In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father. 

When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened. Maud's battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen - and the even more nightmarish demons of her father's past. 

Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly Gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl's longing to fly free. 

©2019 Michelle Paver (P)2019 Head of Zeus

Critic reviews

"A ghost story to chill and thrill...Like Touching the Void rewritten by Jack London, Thin Air is a heart-freezing masterpiece." (Guardian)

"Paver is the mistress of suspense." (The Times)

"A wonderful atmospheric and hugely enjoyable ghost story." (Anthony Horowitz)

What listeners say about Wakenhyrst

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The Fens are the winners

Michele Paver excels at creating intriguing & chilling stories - Thin Air is well worth downloading.
In 1913 the obsessive historian Edward Stearn killed a man with a pick axe in a random, bizarre and horrific attack, so we know WHO. The story set in the Norfolk fens fill in the why.

The main character is Maud, Edward's slighted and insulted daughter, the only child along with much younger Felix. Maud's beloved Maman survived a catalogue of 'chamberpots of blood', but died giving birth to dead Rosie. Maud grows to be her father's loathed amenuensis - and also to read her father's journals which detail not only his constant 'connections' with the uppity servant girl, but also his obsession with devils,as he slides into madness. The other impressive presence in the story is the Fens themselves with their oppressive and sinister miasma and dark writhing eels. The story is certainly packed and absorbing but suffers from having no likeable characters.

The narration is uneven. The start was alarmingly bad, as though it was a reading of a spooky story for 5 year-olds. Quite dreadful, but it did improve and quieten down. The first part should have been re-recorded

23 people found this helpful

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  • C
  • 06-05-19

Promising start but kind of fizzled out

Started off well - interesting characters, hint of intrigue and slow build of the “horror” but in the end, didn’t really go anywhere. Characters ended up very flat with little narrative development and the denouement was predictable from about 1/3rd of the way in. Juanita McMahon did a good job with the narrative -shame about the plot

18 people found this helpful

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Not Paver’s Gothic Best...

The third of Paver’s Gothic feeling horror, mystery reads and not her best. I grabbed this on release as I loved her Dark Matter so much and can listen to that time and time again.

This was pretty creepy but felt more drawn out with some of the mystery impact lost.

Worth reading, just not her best. Presentation is flawless.

13 people found this helpful

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Didn’t reach expectations..

I really enjoyed the authors previous books, so bought this one on the basis that it would likely be as good. Unfortunately, it was tedious, the story was depressingly mundane and I got bored with the haughtiness of the characters. Shame.

10 people found this helpful

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Really good. But maybe not for me.

I was a big fan of her previous book " Thin Air" which was a real gem so I was keen to listen to this. It too is a really good, well thought out, and well written book but I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much. Romance/growing up puberty type stuff often puts me off in a lot of narratives and it did in wakenhurst. It makes me cringe a bit. Also I just felt a kind of grim dislike of all the characters (which I think is what the author intended) and therefore wasn't cheering for anyone or as invested in it as I expected. Its a good book but an uncomfortable one.

9 people found this helpful

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Too slow moving

Unlike the previous books this really didn't have me gripped. Seemed to drag on and on

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A disappointment

After loving every previous audible version of Michelle’s books I just couldn’t engage with this. The narration was good but the story was dull. I couldn’t get into the characters or plot even at the climax. Hopefully the next one will grab me as the many before this did.

10 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable but lacks all the tension of the author’s previous work

I adore Dark Matter and Thin Air (albeit the two are incredibly similar), for me this lacked the authenticity of those previous novels. Personally I felt the story was over-wrought, lacking the foundations of a strong underlying plot. It isn’t very believable and is hindered by a slow, rather flabby start. Dark Matter and Thin Air are both defined by incredible, drawn out tension, loneliness and desolation, this is a very different story. Credit to the author for not merely repeating the same recipe, but whilst an enjoyable listen, I don’t think it’s of the same calibre.

7 people found this helpful

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Michelle Paver strikes again

Michelle never fails to draw me in to her settings, and deep into her characters minds.

3 people found this helpful

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Wakenhyrst

This book kept me awake at night, and I couldn’t get the story out of my head, or the feeling of being watched when I was alone and had stopped listening for a while. It’s so atmospheric and so detailed, you can breathe the air of the fens as you listen. A descent into madness that is so gothic and so well controlled; though this is unlike any of Paver’s previous creep tales, “Dark Matter” and “Thin Air”, it’s brings back the atmosphere of her earlier novels, before Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. The mention of the clatter of clawed feet made me think of Tokoroth instantly and I was terrified the whole way through which such scenes. Beautifully written, though I felt vague in places. A wonderful narration by Juanita McMahon. Perhaps the best book I’ve listened to this year.

9 people found this helpful

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  • B. Coleman
  • 23-02-20

Strangely compelling

I got this book on a whim, and was vaguely expecting some sort of gothic horror. This isn’t quite that. It’s gothic meandering, gothic drama, gothic slow burn. Horror, not so much. A touch of the psychological, but a fairly light touch. Really it’s more of a somewhat disturbed portrait, interestingly rendered, beautifully performed.

I finished this title in just over a day, and at every point I wanted to continue on with it, but at no point was anything especially gripping and immediate happening. Yet it remained compelling.

It’s a lively visit to a dark, disturbed, lush and damp time and place. A bit like a painting you can get lost in. And so long as you’re ok with floating through this, soaking in it, rather than expect jump scares and cheap frights, I’d strongly recommend it.

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  • anne k.
  • 13-05-20

Depressing

I should say right off the bat that I'm not a fan of murder mysteries, so I was biassed to start with. I really love the narrator's voice, which is why I picked this book. It's just not set in an era or location that I'm particularly fond of. A lot of really negative things happen in the novel, and there doesn't seem to be any higher purpose to it. But that's my beef with mysteries. If you're looking for a spooky, suspense-filled story it does offer that. Not a good listen if you're already depressed though, it could just send you over the edge.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Paisley
  • 31-08-21

Deeply Emotional

I'm having trouble finding words to describe how connected I felt to this book. No, it's not an action packed thriller, horror story, or anything of the like. It's a fascinating look into the psychology of trauma and how our choices follow us through life. Maude is so well written and the entire story so believable through how emotionally evocative it is. There are twists and a mystery that you will want to keep listening to uncover the truth of. The ending had me bawling. Just a beautifully written book. If you look for stories that make you feel something, you'll enjoy this.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Faunus
  • 03-04-20

A slow burn with so many twists and turns!

I usually don't like slow burn books as they tend to sometimes drag and one loses interest, but Wakenhyrst sucks you in and holds you tight. Michelle Paver does a fantastic job with world building and weaving suspense. The character's of Wakenhyrst are vivid and you really connect to them. If you are looking for an in your face and make you jump ghost story this isn't it. This is a gothic ghost story which is a different type of scary, but it is also more than that. This touches into the supernatural on other levels and shows you the slow and dark descent into the human mind. As for Juanita McMahon narrating this fantastic book she lends even more talent to a already talented author and brings even more depth to the story! I will definitely be checking out more of Michelle Paver's books in the future. Wakenhyrst is laced with Obsession, Religious Fervor, Romance, Madness, The Supernatural, Lies, Deception, and all of it weaves a twisted and dark tail that is best listened to or read in a quiet and dimly lit room where the shadows and your imagination can play with your mind as you read!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kate
  • 12-01-20

Slow moving but interesting story

I would not label this book as horror. It is more of a thriller but very slow moving. The character development is the part I found most interesting. The performance was excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Aedan Silva
  • 20-05-21

great narration

great narration and vivid characters. reminiscent of old horror like Shirley Patterson. loved to hate Edward

1 person found this helpful

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  • J&JBrad
  • 03-01-22

Tough But Gripping

Excellently written and it held me.

Disturbing, infuriating, and uncomfortable like only a well woven story could be; it made me care about the heroine and those around her. I can't say I enjoyed the journey, but I'm glad I listened to the entire book.

Michelle Paver is an incredible writer and I will purchase anything she produces.

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  • Layla Mabbitt
  • 07-12-21

Mystery, history, and art all wrapped up.

I have listened to this book many times. Each time, I pick-up on some new nugget of information. The characters are developed and wonderful, they are all intertwined a story building climax. The end of the novel is entirely surprising. I thought I could guess but, the ending is more surprising then I could ever have dreamed of. If you enjoy coming of age, and history, with some murder and twisted thinking,you will enjoy this novel.

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  • CR
  • 08-11-21

Fine Novel

I loved every second of this beautifully written, atmospheric novel. Will definitely be reading more of Michelle Paver's work. Terrific MC.

Juanita McMahon did one of the finest jobs of narration I've ever experienced. What a joy to listen to her wonderfully nuanced reading. Well done, all! C

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  • EBeaver
  • 30-08-21

Depressingly Wonderful. Totally engrossing.

Dark, eerie, fanciful. Loved it. Take all my money, Paver. Every bit of the story was so well thought out. Didn't want the story end but the end was so satisfying in the saddest way. Narrator was excellent, she made this book so emotional and real. I hope I never have to read it again because it got deep but it's now one of the best books I've ever come across. I also recommend her two other spooky books.