I don’t often read short stories but when I heard about Rosy Thornton’s new collection, Sandlands, I was keen to read it. As someone who is enthusiastic about wildlife I was intrigued about these stories which are inspired by the creatures of the Suffolk landscape. I really enjoyed reading this collection and from the first story I loved discovering the animals, people and places that make up this landscape rich with fascinating stories waiting to be told.
The collection comprises of sixteen stories, all of them linked by the landscape with some aspects of one story appearing in another. Below are the three stories that stood out most for me that are my favourites from the collection:
The Watcher of Souls – As someone who is particularly fond of owls this story featuring a barn owl really appealed to me! But the beautiful, mysterious owl is not the only thing to be found in the woodland. Rebecca’s pursuit of the owl leads to her discovery of a cache of long lost letters…
‘The one who hears what is not spoken and sees what is unseen. The keeper of secrets. The watcher of souls.’
The Level Crossing – This story features a woman who is going on a routine run, following a route she knows well. What makes this journey significant is her reminiscing on family memories, difficult memories that she is pondering now whilst faced with challenges of her own….
‘One two, one two. It’s not hard, it’s not complicated. It’s just a case of putting one foot in front of the other.’
High House – In this story, the town is faced with flooding and Mr Napish is helping to care for a fox saved from the floods. But what appears to be a simple, spontaneous act of kindness turns out to not be all it seems…
‘I think it was the way he spoke the words, and all that pale blue on the map, but I had a sudden image of us running towards the cliffs ourselves, of toppling over them in a tumble of sand, of being swallowed by the waves.’
What all the stories in had in common aside from their setting is the wonderful use of description and I love Thornton’s writing which is rich in detail, bringing the landscape to life. I have always imagined it to be difficult in a short story to develop the characters sufficiently but they are all wonderfully portrayed and there is an interesting array of characters to discover. Their stories were fascinating and thought provoking and after reading each one I was left thinking about them and what each of their experiences represent. With this in mind I feel it is a book that can be returned to as it is one where you may see or discover something different the second time around. This is a lovely collection of stories, beautifully told.
Sandlands is to be published on 21st July 2016 by Sandstone Press. Many thanks to Rosy Thornton and Sandstone for providing me with a copy for review. I will also be taking part in the Sandlands blog tour later this month where I will be featuring one of the stories from the collection, so be sure to visit the blog and check it out!