In a country with such a rich history, it is hardly surprising that Britain remains fascinated with the idea of what might lurk beneath the soil and how it came to be there.
It is this curiosity that James Brogden mines for Hekla’s Children, drawing on the thrill of archeological discovery to craft a tale that explores the way in which we shape our landscape and how it, in turn, shapes us.
Teacher Nathan Brookes loses four teenagers in his care on a hike through Sutton Park, all but one never to be seen again. A decade later, a skeleton is dug up and he is dragged back into a nightmare. Olivia, the surviving teen, reappears to warn him that the newly unearthed Bronze Age warrior is the only thing keeping something terrible from our world.
As it opens, the tale feels like a typical horror giving way to a redemption story for Nathan. However, whenever you think you have the direction of Hekla’s Children pegged, Brogden takes great delight in taking it somewhere different.
It’s a rambling narrative, but one that never feels as if it has escaped its author’s control. All of it builds up into a fantastic reveal and the kind of climactic moment that is worthy of a triumphant air punch.
Un, the world existing alongside our own, is a brilliant creation, a place moulded by human experience and one that works as both reflection and examination. It allows Brogden to play with some big ideas (some of which deserve to be dwelt on a little longer perhaps) and thoroughly explore those ideas of environment and consequence.
It’s a fascinating piece of work in that respect, but above all and most importantly, Hekla’s Children is a really entertaining read.