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philipdodd52

philipdodd52

Clan by David P Elliot

I won Clan by David P Elliot as a Booklikes giveaway, I am pleased to say. Firstly, I was drawn to the book by the picture of Hermitage Castle on its cover, a place I have visited a few times. It is a dark tale, rooted in the history of the Scottish clans and the supernatural folk of the border ballads. The author seemed to be more concerned with the describing of events rather than delving into the past and deeps of his characters. Once that was clear, I found his dark supernatural thriller, as it could be called, interesting, entertaining, and, at times, truly scary, alarming. Perhaps his most original creation in his book is the character he has named Robin Redcap, who, along with his fellow Red Caps, leaps onto the page from the shadows of nightmare and the dark pit of Hell itself. He is summoned into the modern world by Lord William de Soulis, who is presented as a brutal warrior chieftain from the old days of the clan feuds and wars, and who is also a wizard, in league with those beings that are called in the book the Dark Spirits. His plan is to sit on the ancient throne of Scotland and become master of the world by use of his dark supernatural power and his army of Red Caps forms the main plot of the book.                                                                                                                    It was a pleasure to read a novel written in such clear, precise prose, in mostly short chapters, and one set in a landscape I know quite well, that being Northumberland and the Scottish borders. The names of places I have visited are mentioned in the book, such as Newcastleton, Jedburgh, Hawick and, of course, Hermitage Castle. At the centre of the tale is David Elliot, who appears to have a lot of darkness inside him. He is fifty seven, we are told, jobless and alone, after three failed marriages, and he has never fully recovered from the death of his father. So he goes to stay in a cottage, not far from  Hermitage Castle, with his daughter, Kate, her husband, Simon, and her young son, Thomas, to get back to his roots, to try to redeem and save himself. In a village pub, the family meet one of the most interesting characters in the book, a man named Thomas Truman. He is more of a spirit than a human man, who speaks of Heaven and Hell not as places but as spiritual states and it is he who reveals to David Elliot and his family the war that has always been going on between good and evil, the forces of light against the Dark Spirits. The only weapon against the Dark Spirits, the tale reveals, is love, particularly family love, the bond between members of the same Clan. I found the ideas in the novel relating to the life of the spirit in the after life interesting, stimulating, and the tale it told well worth the read. To conclude with some wise words from Franz Kafka: "We need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests, far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us."