The image of the sleepy insular community rocked by some sinister supernatural force has been a cultural staple, from Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds through to the surreal chills of Twin Peaks. In his debut novel, erstwhile joiner Angus Dunn provides a startling, Highland twist on this familiar sub-genre. The fictional fishing village of Cromness provides the backdrop to shape-shifting locals, houses which double as the portal to some parallel universe and the beach where village eccentric Jimmy Bervie looks for sandy patterns to divine the future.
Dunn’s novel began life as a series of instalments on the internet, but the episodic nature of his tale neither inhibits its swift pacing, nor detracts from the fact that this is a bold, confident debut, packed to the gunnels with memorable characters and wry humour. The other great star of the novel, however, is the setting, Dunn bringing the Black Isle to vivid, dramatic life.