Saturday, June 26, 2010
The Leaping by Tom Fletcher
Published by: Quercus
439 pages (c) 2010
Review based on UK edition
I first heard about this book on a Facebook group, British Horror Novels. I heard it was about werewolves (a favourite of mine. My first novel was about werewolves--more lycanthropy of the mind than changing...until the end) and I was keen to try a British werewolf story as opposed to the US band I’ve been enjoying.
The leaping is an engrossing book, but I wouldn’t really class it as horror, though it does have all the lovely trappings of a horror novel: a Lord of Hell, werewolves, people attacked and eaten, blood, guts, intestines, a sinister game, ghosts and a violin. It also has: strong characters, drama, friendship, loss, heartbreak and torment.
The book is told in first person by two characters: Jack and Francis (although the book is opened by Erin, for reasons I can’t understand). They are friends that share a house with three others; Graham (your typical hardcore partier, Erin and Taylor (who become a couple). They all work in a call centre and hate their job and supervisor, a sicko by the name of Kenny (kudos on creating this character, he came off very well).
Francis is a complex character who worries about everything, mainly cancer and all the ways of catching it. His father has cancer of the throat and that compounds his fears. He has it, he is sure of that fact and he worries about his flatmates. Jack is your normal everyday guy with a fascination about the history or truth behind lore. Then he meets Jennifer. She is everything he’s wanted in a person. But unfortunately for him, she doesn’t believe in belonging to anyone or having one mate for life. She comes across as a new-age/hippy chick who believes in free love.
It takes a long time for the story to really get going. A very long time, like over 200 pages. But the build up and small hints really enhance the characters and give them a life and a reason for the actions performed. Graham needed a better send off (there wasn’t one, he was just dead). Think of Graham as the hunter with the axe in Little Red Riding Hood.
There are many characters in this book but it is fairly easy to keep track of them. I think only having two characters tell the story works wonders and keeps the reader interested. The many threads in this story is what keeps it going, but the main theme is the party that is thrown for Jack at Fell House—deep in the mountains. It is here that the story kicks into third gear. It’s the time of the Leaping. Werewolves abound. Jennifer kidnapped. Francis is bitten. Graham grabs the axe. The lord of Hell is here with his violin. The time is upon them. The night is long.