Ness goes beyond what we expect books to do. Beyond poetry, beyond the word, beyond the bomb -- it is an aftertime song. It is dark, ever so dark, nimble and lethal. It is a triumphant libretto of mythic modernism for our poisoned age. Ness is something else, and feels like it always has been' Max Porter, Booker-longlisted author of Lanny and Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Somewhere on a salt-and-shingle island, inside a ruined concrete structure known as The Green Chapel, a figure called The Armourer is leading a ritual with terrible intent.
But something is coming to stop him.
Five more-than-human forms are traversing land, sea and time towards The Green Chapel, moving to the point where they will converge and become Ness. Ness has lichen skin and willow-bones. Ness is made of tidal drift, green moss and deep time. Ness has hagstones for eyes and speaks only in birds. And Ness has come to take this island back.
What happens when land comes to life? What would it take for land to need to come to life? Using word and image, Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood have together made a minor modern myth. Part-novella, part-prose-poem, part-mystery play, in Ness their skills combine to dazzling, troubling effect.
Robert Macfarlane is the author of The Lost Words with Jackie Morris, The Old Ways and Underland, among other books.