On Hist Fic Saturday
Let's go back to...Northern England, 1780
22 March 2018
Forced out of his home, at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff travels across Northern England, searching for clues to his past, on a journey filled with darkness, danger and deceit.
In the novel, Wuthering Heights, there is no clue as to where Heathcliff disappears to in the three years he is missing from the story; however, Ill Will provides a reasonable explanation for where he might have been, and fleshes out the violent world that Heathcliff so dangerously inhabits.
In despair over his tormented relationship, with Cathy Earnshaw, and with the need to discover more about himself, Heathcliff is determined to escape Wuthering Heights. He changes his name to William Lee, and sets about discovering his origins. However, the journey through the northern countryside is fraught with danger, not just from the savagery of landscape, but also from his association with Emily, the strange and, at times, other worldly companion he meets on his journey.
In Ill Will, the author has conjured a rather bleak story. There is no gentleness within its pages, nor does the story make any apology for the coarseness of its language, which broods and grumbles throughout, and which is so much a part of Heathcliff’s dangerous personality and so evocative of his tortured life, that I came to tolerate, and understand, the need for such vulgarity.
There is an abrasive quality to the story telling, particularly in terms of content which is disturbingly graphic, and yet, at other times, there is such a rich lyricism to the language, that the landscape and its variety of people come gloriously alive.
Heathcliff’s missing years have always been a mystery, and there is no doubt that Ill Will gives an electrifying account of what might have happened.
Michael Stewart is a multi-award winning writer, born and brought up in Salford, who moved to Yorkshire in 1995 and is now based in Bradford. He has written several full length stage plays, one of which, Karry Owky, was joint winner of the King's Cross Award for New Writing. His debut novel, King Crow, was published in January 2011. It won the Guardian's Not-the-Booker Award and has been selected as a recommended read for World Book Night. He works as a is senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield, where he is the director of the Huddersfield Literature Festival.
I read this book as part of the Love Reading Review Panel. You can read more reviews here