Beastings: an extract


Here is the opening page of my forthcoming novel Beastings.

It is published July 3rd 2014 by Bluemoose Books.

WHEN THE MOON was a pearl at the bottom of the tarn they walked over drifts of shifting shale and wild waxy grass polished to a sheen by the wind and when the great banks of cloud rolled in and they could see neither their hands in front of their faces nor their feet on the ground they sat where they were and waited it out.

   Once when they were walking the Priest stopped and raised a hand as if to swear an oath and said listen and the Poacher said what do you hear and the Priest said just listen and they stood in silence then the Priest said I can hear a baby crying and from the far distance along the broad fell and across the tight valley they could hear the shrill unfettered screams of a creature in distress.

   That’s them said the Priest that’s the child and the Poacher said that’s not them and the Priest said how do you know and the Poacher said because that’s not a baby that’s two foxes rutting mark my words – that’s two foxes at it – mating like – I’d know that sound anywhere. I’ve heard it a thousand times before and I expect I’ll hear it a thousand times more. What happens is the vixen clamps on and the dog swells inside her and it’s him what makes the screaming not her. The Priest said are you sure because that sounds like a baby to me and the Poacher said it may sound like a bairn but that’s foxes trust me Father though many is the night wanderer that’s made the same mistake as you.

   They listened some more to the howls of pain that cut through the night like the sound of something human being torn apart. A sound to freeze hot blood and still a beating heart.

   Then they pressed on.


Pre-order Beastings from Amazon.

From Waterstones.

From Foyles.

From The Guardian bookshop.

From Book Depository.

From Bluemoose.

(Photograph taken by Alexander Binder, from






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