Prompted to return to the eerie tales of his youth as a refuge from family tragedy, Parnell began a journey around the weird and uncanny haunts of the British Isles. Ghostland deftly interweaves the intimate and personal with the historical and cultural, tracing a dimly-lit path through the landscapes that inspired the likes of M.R. James and Alan Garner, and resulted in classic folk horror cinema such as Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man. A darkly atmospheric and oddly moving book about the heritage of the past and the hunger for belonging.
‘A uniquely strange and wonderful work of literature’ – Philip Hoare
In his late thirties, 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.