Filler content with resurrection

A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #28:-

THE RESURRECTIONISTS
Kim Wilkins
Orion pb, 503pp, £6.99

Maisie, a young cellist, fakes a wrist injury to put some distance between herself, a career she’s no longer sure she wants and a domineering mother. She travels from her native Australia to the tiny village of Solgreve in Yorkshire, home of her recently deceased maternal grandmother Sybill, the family’s black sheep. Her reception is unexpectedly frosty; the villagers feared Sybill as a witch and want nothing to do with her granddaughter. Thrown back on her own devices Maisie explores Sybill’s cottage and discovers the carefully hidden parts of a diary written by a young woman back in the 18th century. Georgette eloped from London to Solgreve with her poet lover, but her diary reveals a terrible secret about the village, an evil that could well have survived into the present day and cost Sybill her life, which it will take Maisie all of her recently discovered psychic powers to defeat.

This is pretty much a by the numbers supernatural thriller with all the usual Gothic trappings thrown in gratis – old buildings, haunted graveyards, sinister country folk, evil clergymen, hidden documents, and a whole percussion section of things that go bump in the night. Wilkins stage manages it all with an adroit touch and some nicely understated supernatural effects, never letting slip the reins of credibility, but by and large the pleasures to be found between the covers of The Resurrectionists are those of a familiar story told well rather than any shock of the new. Where it does offer a little extra frisson of novelty is in the character of Maisie, the tension between the carefully regulated life from which she wishes to escape and the madness in which she finds herself, in more senses than one. It’s a spot on study of the romantic impulse, and Wilkins caps it all with a nasty twist at the end, one that is not entirely unexpected but still comes as a bit of a jolt with its abruptness.

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