Social worker Johnny Malkin is battling a crippling workload and a hostile local community. That’s on a good day: things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Two fourteen-year-old girls are found wandering Aitken Wood on the slopes of Pendle Hill, claiming to have been raped by a gang of men. With no female social workers available, Johnny is assigned to their case. But what, at first, looks like yet another incident of child exploitation takes a sinister turn when the girls start speaking of a forthcoming apocalypse.
When Johnny interviews one of the girls, Jenna Dunham, her story starts to unravel. His investigation draws him into a tight-knit village community in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where whispers of witchcraft and child abuse go back to the Middle Ages.
One name recurs: The Hobbledy Man. Is he responsible for the outbreaks of violence sweeping across the country?
Is he more than just myth?
The prologue sets a dark theme for what the reader can look forward to in the rest of the book.
Johnny is a man with issues. I certainly didn’t envy anyone in his line of work and no wonder he struggles to sleep on a night. He tries his best to help the people in his care but at times it’s a constant uphill struggle. His partner and work are understandably concerned as he does seem to be losing it slightly.
The storyline covers racism as well as grooming. Sadly these are things that happen everyday in our world and even though horrifying to read, I applaud the author for not shying away from the reality of it.
Some parts certainly make for uncomfortable reading, especially the grooming of the teenage girls. It certainly is a wake up call with how the men get into the girls heads and I so wanted to grab them and take them away from the horrors of what they were having happening to them.
I enjoyed the whole history from the middle ages that throws a little bit of a super natural element to it all. It certainly made for an intriguing read.
Pendle Fire is a dark and disturbing read that had me engrossed through out. The whole setting was perfect for the story line and added an eeriness that I don’t think would have worked elsewhere. Definitely one for readers who like a more darker crime story.
My thanks to Bloodhound Books and NetGalley for an advanced readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.
Goodreads rating 4/5 stars.
Pendle Fire is available to purchase from Amazon. (Please note that link used is an affiliate link)
Paul Southern was born in the 1960s to itinerant parents who moved from city to city. He lived in Liverpool, Belfast, London and Leeds, then escaped to university, where he nearly died of a brain haemorrhage. After an unexpected recovery, he co-formed an underground indie group (Sexus). Made immediate plans to become rich and famous, but ended up in Manchester. Shared a house with mice, cockroaches, and slugs; shared the street with criminals. Five years later, hit the big time with a Warners record deal. Concerts at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Melody Maker front cover, Smash Hits Single of the Week, Radio 1 and EastEnders. Mixed with the really rich and famous. Then mixed with lawyers. Ended up back in Manchester, broke. He got a PhD in English (he is the world’s leading authority on Tennyson’s stage plays!), then wrote his first novel, The Craze, based on his experiences of the Muslim community. He has three other published books and has written for ITV. He was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger award in 2002 and received positive reviews from national and international press, including The Guardian, Arena, Radio 4, Ladsmag, and Kirkus, amongst many others.