I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Witch Bottle by Tom Fletcher
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on November 26, 2020
Genres: Fiction, General, Horror, Rural Life
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
A deeply atmospheric literary horror novel about the nature of repressed guilt, grief and fear: 'Unsettling, horribly gripping and touched with genius' says the Daily Mail
Daniel once had a baby brother, but he died, a long time ago now. And he had a wife and a daughter, but that didn't work out, so now he's alone. The easy monotony of his job as a milkman in the remote northwest of England demands nothing from him other than dealing with unreasonable customer demands and the vagaries of his enigmatic boss.
But things are changing. Daniel's started having nightmares, seeing things that can't possibly be there - like the naked, emaciated giant with a black bag over its head which is so real he swears he could touch it . . . if he dared.
It's not just at night bad things are happening, either, or just to him. Shaken and unnerved, he opens up to a local witch. She can't t discern the origins of his haunting, but she can provide him with a protective ward - a witch-bottle - if, in return, he will deliver her products on his rounds.
But not everyone's happy to find people meddling with witch-bottles. Things are about to get very unpleasant . . .
Witch Bottle is literary horror at its finest, perfect for fans of Andrew Michael Hurley's The Loney and Starve Acre.
Witch Bottle by Tom Fletcher is a story that will constantly have your guard up. Fear surrounds this small hamlet-like fog clinging to the mountainside. It envelops around you, constricting you, breathing becomes more difficult, your sight becomes hazy, it’s an all-sense assault.
My Review of Witch Bottle
The sheer force of its raw veracity and human emotion in this novel took me by surprise. Its supernatural element, perfectly complemented by the decline of mental health and broken relationships, leaves you deeply unsettled. In this modern gothic thriller, Cumbria has never felt so unearthly.
After leaving his wife and baby daughter, Daniel moved to Cumbria to become a milkman. As a favor to his mother, he’s renting his uncle’s house for a pittance. Daniel, a very desolate figure who has suffered incredible loss, is now on his own. While being a milkman may not be everyone’s choice, Daniel finds it very freeing. He enjoys driving and being out in the countryside. Despite his appreciation for the job, he doesn’t much like his colleague, Ryan.
Throughout the story, Daniel’s past unfolds in snippets. We witness the experience of his wife’s pregnancy and childbirth through his eyes. Some of the most dramatic and nightmare-inducing scenes I’ve ever read in a book come from these glimpses. His life has been marked by a lot of trauma and pain, making it a harrowing journey.
This story reminded me a lot of The Hiker by M.J. Ford, check out my review here.
It’s Pretty Dark…
Dark and twisted, Witch Bottle by Tom Fletcher was a story I ventured into blindly, and it did trip me up a few times, leaving me with a busted ankle and no way out. I genuinely believe the author didn’t use these topics for shock value alone; instead, they were employed to examine how mental illness and trauma can make you yearn to isolate from the rest of the world. Although there are parts that are difficult to read, I believe that only strengthens the connection between plot, characters, and reader.
During his milk rounds, Daniel frequently visits the La’al Tattie Shop, a local establishment owned and operated by Kathryn. He feels a growing attraction to her, but due to the burn from his last relationship, he hesitates to pursue it further. However, an unwelcome visitor plagues him, and it’s revealed that Kathryn is a witch who can craft a trinket to ward it off. Discovering that others in the hamlet face the same issue, she creates witch bottles for Daniel’s customers, and he delivers them during his rounds.
The dramatic writing immediately draws you into the story with a sense of foreboding. The backdrop to the narrative adds another layer to the feeling of dread. It evokes memories of becoming lost on the fells as dusk approached – you knew it wasn’t going to be good, but the extent of how bad it could be was at the mercy of the imagination.
Witch Bottle presents an exquisite puzzle box. Buckle up, because Fletcher takes you on a rollercoaster ride that will have your mouth and stomach swapping places! It’s off the wall and full of surprises.