At a call-centre in Manchester five twenty-somethings have grounded themselves in an unfulfilling job with dead-end prospects. Until the arrival of a ‘delicate yet severe, wild yet self-possessed’ woman triggers a series of events that will force them to question the reality that they live by.
Each chapter follows the musings of either Jack or Francis, picked out from the clique to relate its inner workings. In this pair Fletcher reveals some relatable fears. Jack dreads the shadows, strangers or a sly smile. Francis is haunted by the horrors of incurable ailments, a headache becomes a fever or a lump denotes the silent killer cancer. As their story develops it is apparent that these real-world anxieties will do little to prepare them for the events at Fell House. In an austere old mansion next to a bottomless lake the group throw a house-warming to introduce a bit of youthful vigour to the antiquated area but the house-warming soon spirals into an un-ending party of mayhem where myth and legend wreak havoc.
It is Fletcher’s commitment to describing the anxiety of his characters that drew me head-first into this horror. I found that ‘A battle with your body is [indeed] a battle lost’. The realism of the group’s emotions, the brutal, immediate, uncontrollable nature of their emotion, meant that as a reader I had a hard time escaping the excitement myself. Fletcher captures terror, delight, love and lust and delivers it to you so the group’s experience becomes your own. Reading through this novel I became enveloped in Tom Fletcher’s turbulent world, as disillusioned as the characters existing within it, learning along with them as they suffer twisted and enlightening events, all to discover the truth about The Leaping.
Review by Ellen Trevan