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The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy

The Wicker Man (1978)

by Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Fiction. The film was better. ( )
  questbird | Oct 7, 2013 |
'Much has been said of the strumpets of yore
Of wenches and bawdy house queens by the score
But I sing of a baggage that we all adore,
The Landlord's Daughter . . . '

'. . . Her ale it is lively and strong to the taste
It is brewed with discretion and never with haste
You can have all you like
If you swear not to waste
The Landlord's Daughter . . .'

A novel based on the film of the same name, and written by its writer and director. I liked the beginning, seeing Sergeant Howie and Mary together, guarding the golden eagle nest and I definitely felt I knew more about him from reading the book. There was more detail about the paganism of the islanders, and more interaction between Lord Summerisle and the policeman. There were a few things, however, that didn't work as well as in the film, notably Willow's dancing, singing and pounding the walls outside Howie's room at the pub, which was only shown from Howie's point of view, and didn't have the same impact as seeing Britt Ekland doing it, while the interminable discussions between Lord Summerisle and Howie became tedious after a while. ( )
  isabelx | Apr 22, 2011 |
By and large, pagans are annoying, combining as they do the unholy trinity of the self righteousness of a religious group that considers itself misunderstood, the smugness of a religious group that feels that they are the true religion and hence are privy to The Answer, and their unique element of dressing and behaving like characters at a live fantasy role playing weekend.

Pagans essentially fall into two groups. The first of these is pagan lite. These are the ones that you see at festivals, who once read a book about ley-lines but have yet to realise that there is more to being a pagan than black mascara, piercings, lots of bad silver jewellery and arseing around at Glastonbury.

These are the sort of people who complained bitterly for years that they were being denied freedom of religious expression because they couldn't get access to Stonehenge during certain festivals and, when English Heritage relented and allowed them access to the site on the solstice, celebrated their religious freedom by sitting cross legged on a rock playing a flute, badly, and guzzling Merrydown, all the while being studiously ignored by the 'real' pagans, that is; blokes in beards and white sheets who claim to be Druids and, because of health and safety regulations, are confined to 'sacrificing' a leg of lamb, all the while wishing for a return to the good old days when they would be up to their elbows in virgin.

The pagans in 'The Wicker Man' are quite a different proposition altogether. Some have beards, some drink cider but all are from what one might call the fundamentalist end of pagan religion.

The plot concerns a staunchly Christian Highland police sergeant who receives a letter reporting that a child has gone missing on a remote Scottish island, famous for it's apples and isolated nature. Sergeant Howie investigates and discovers a closed community practicing the pagan faith and particularly fertility rituals at every opportunity, especially those that require flouncing round a maypole or bonking. The Sergeant does not approve, but al fresco group sex is the least of his problems as he uncovers what he suspects is an island wide conspiracy.

Howie is, literally, a man alone, stranded friendless on an island. Small islands can be weird places, they don't even have to be surrounded by sea. Anyone who has been to a remote farming community, insular and cut off from the world by a sea of wheat or beet will know that they can be peculiar places, home to a peculiar people. That effect is enhanced here because the whole island is a farming community and, surrounded by the Atlantic, there really is no escape.

The sense of menace and tension grows with every turn of the page and every turn of events. Howie's paranoia, justified or not, is ramped up to a degree that the reader starts to feel a little of it themselves. There's a very uncomfortable suggestion that what's happening to Howie could happen just as easily to the reader. Anyone who has stopped in the middle of nowhere to fill up with petrol or ask for directions and felt somewhat uncomfortably cut off from the rest of the world, without even the comfort of a mobile 'phone signal, will recognise the sense of isolation.

Along with this growing sense of peril is one of anticipation. The book is called 'The Wicker Man' and one wonders just who or what the wicker man may be. The revelation is a true moment of horror, possibly only working because the tension has been building throughout the book.

The oddness of the place, a Scottish island that grows fruit and the oddness of it's inhabitants (these are not 'pagan lite' folk) is subtly conveyed. The island's Laird, Summerisle himself, is as suave and charismatic as you could hope for in somebody who may just be behind all the shady goings on, his cool confidence only faltering in his last exchange with Howie.

A disturbing and thought provoking novel that moves from thriller to horror in chilling increments. Not one to be read on a caravanning holiday in the back of beyond, but certainly one to be read. ( )
1 vote macnabbs | Mar 8, 2011 |
This book came after the original film, so there's interesting details in the intro. As a rule I read the book then watch the film, so I have my own idea of characters and I'm not replaying the film actors in my head. With this book, the only screen persona I couldn't shake was Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, which is no bad thing really. Good read. ( )
  MarionII | Apr 24, 2010 |
Love it! ( )
  mrsjwilloughby | Jan 2, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Hardyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaffer, Anthonymain authorall editionsconfirmed
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This is the novelization of the 1973 motion picture. Please do not combine with the film or any novelizations of the 2006 motion picture of the same name.
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When a young girl mysteriously disappears, Police Sergeant Howie travels to a remote Scottish island to investigate. But this pastoral community, led by the strange Lord Summerisle, is not what it seems.

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