A different take on Wuthering Heights
Black Spring - Alison Croggon
Member Name: linzeelou
Black Spring - Alison Croggon
Advantages: Characters, plot, changes
Disadvantages: Wanted more about the witches
About the book
Black Spring is a young adult novel by Alison Croggon. It was inspired by Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte. The book will be released on 3rd January 2013 and published by Walker. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.
Synopsis (Taken from the back of the book)
When Oskar Hammel seeks refuge in the grim Northern Plateau, he discovers a patriarchal society where vendetta holds sway and wizards enforce the code of blood and vengeance. Through a shocking encounter with the brooding Damek and his wilful young wife, Lina, Hammel uncovers a story of destructive longing and possessive desire beyond his bleakest imaginings.
What I thought
Although there have been quite a lot of reinventions of classic books released over the past two years or so, I haven't read any of them. I don't know why, they just didn't pique my interest - until this book came along. I have to be honest here and say that I absolutely hated Wuthering Heights. I didn't understand the large chunks in Yorkshire dialect and I found it quite boring overall. Anyway, I thought that Black Spring sounded like an interesting reinvention and I was hoping it would change my mind about Wuthering Heights.
Black Spring is told from multiple narratives, the first being Hammel, a man wanting to get away from busy city life. He decides to go away to the Northern Plateau where people have a completely different way of life. After a long time travelling, he finds his accommodation and realises he may be quite far out of his depth. After a meeting with the owner of the house he is staying in, housekeeper Anna begins to tell Hammel the story of Damek and Lina. I really enjoyed the way that this book was split into different narratives. By beginning with Hammel, we get to understand why the story is being told, with Anna we get a perspective of someone that has been there through it all and then with Lina, we get glimpses into her life.
As Anna gets into the story of Damek and Lina, Croggan's dark and gothic writing style really stands out. Everything about this book was creepy, a little scary at times and definitely disturbing. Set in a world where wizards are ok but witches aren't and where a long running vendetta rules what people do, there is plenty to be interested in rather than the love story which is so well known from Wuthering Heights. In fact, I liked the sub plots and background information much more interesting than Damek and Lina. Because of this, I do wish that there had been more about the witches and why they were supposed to be killed at birth. I wanted to know more of the witches and wizards and more about what they could actually do, which was something which was lacking for me.
Getting to hear Damek and Lina's story right from the beginning made them easier to relate to. I can't remember where the story really starts in Wuthering Heights as I read it so long ago but I didn't find Cathy and Heathcliff as likeable as these two characters. I also think that the language used made understanding their love for each other much easier than in Wuthering Heights. I remember not understanding any of the large chunks written in a Yorkshire dialect and skipped right past them, probably missing out on something I needed to know. Croggan doesn't say what is happening with Damek and Lina explicitly but all of the clues are there and they are much easier to pick up on. I felt like I understood this love story much more than I did with Cathy and Heathcliff which is why I think I liked this book so much more.
Black Spring was a wonderful, refreshing take on Wuthering Heights with unique and exciting additions to such a well-known story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and considering I hated Wuthering Heights, I wasn't expecting to like it quite as much.
Summary: A good retelling