Cape Wrath by Paul Finch
Telos Publishing Ltd (ebook), 2002
Craeghatir: a lonely rock, far out on the northernmost tip of Britain; the closest point of land to it, the wild, storm-ravaged Cape Wrath. To call this place bleak is the understatement of a lifetime. Huge cliffs dominate its shores, but within there are green tracks linking secret valleys where tumuli can be found, ancient megaliths and the bones of prehistoric mammals long grown over with moss. The island is now uninhabited and in terms of this beauty and silence, it is an outstanding locale – though few sightseers ever venture there willingly, for Craeghatir has an evil reputation. Professor Jo Mercy of Warwick University’s elite archaeological unit doesn’t believe the rumours and is keen to investigate a newly-discovered barrow on the island which might contain the remains of Ivar Ragnarsson, perhaps the most infamous of all Viking chieftains. Ragnarsson was reputed to be berserkir – a warrior possessed with the wolf-spirit, whose madness carried him past all pain and reason in the heat of battle, and whose victims were deemed offerings to the wolf-god Fenrir. But Mercy and her team will find themselves faced with more than just the inhospitable environment on Craeghatir, as the spirit of Ragnarsson is disturbed and death and madness come to the island.
‘Oh, shiiiitt!’ Craig cried, jumping to his feet, setting the boat rocking wildly.
Cape Wrath is a great horror novella. I really enjoyed it. I loved the setting, the perfect back-drop for a little madness. I’m a big fan of Norse mythology so loved all the references to Odin and the god’s and the mad, blood-thirsty Vikings. This isn’t the most original novella ever written and some elements were predictable horror movie fodder (i.e. a group of people at a remote island get picked off one by one but who is the madman?). What makes Cape Wrath different is that the mad killer is revealed to be something completely unexpected. I liked the characters. The scenes with the professor splashing about naked in the water surrounded by water lilies after her mind caves in were sad but sort of hilarious as well. There are some gory moments in this novella but I never felt like they were over the top or unnecessary. There wasn’t any gore for gore’s sake. I hate it when writer’s do that. I’d highly recommend Cape Wrath for anyone looking for a good horror.