Scorper by Rob Magnuson Smith

Scorper is an odd but gripping novel about an American man, John Cull (in the throes of a mid-life crisis, it seems), who comes to the Sussex village of Ditchling to trace the history of his grandfather who worked with the sculptor and engraver Eric Gill.

It starts out in a relatively conventional way, except that the novel is written in the second person singular, which gives you some clue about how deeply peculiar things will get. From there, reality starts to slide into history, which slides into fantasy and the whole thing becomes a bit gothic.

I really enjoyed it. Cull is a wonderful, flawed character, and the village itself slips from a pretty, chocolate box village to an altogether more sinister and peculiar place, housing bizarre and murderous people. I did find the ending slightly disappointing, though I’m not sure where else Magnuson Smith could have gone with the story.

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