Although a short novella, it's packed to bursting point with evocative narrative. I was reminded of Henry James' `Turn of the Screw' when I was reading this purely for the creepiness of the gothic genre and the way I felt when I read that. You can see references to Angela Carter coming through in this with the way that mystical and fantastical blur the edges of reality. I'd expected a novella to be a breeze to read, a quick short interlude between other books, yet I found myself unable to race through it. Instead I was slowed down by Iris, our narrator. There was something about the prose that meant I couldn't just read it, I had to savour it.
As the synopsis says, it really is compelling. Glen Almain is beautiful in the imagery used by Thompson, with its mysterious beast. We never get to know what the beast is and that is the beauty of this novella, a lot is left to you to decide, or has it been decided for you and you just aren't aware of it? Confusion abounds as Iris becomes sucked into woods and wanders around the petrified stone. War is impending both literally and metaphorically and it's 1936. Iris is trying to uncover the causes of her younger sister's suicide; Daphne worked there previously as personal assistant for the Under-Secretary of War. Everything is strange and Iris begins to lose control as imagination and reality shift. Very clever, intriguing and unusual.