Set in a world blanketed by snow as the result of an environmental disaster, Wivenhoe explores complicity, love, loyalty, and the boundaries of human instinct.
"Never thought he would miss the mud: the gleaming, slickness of it. The slap and suck at the turning of the tide; its rich, bird-shit stink after a hot day and a couple of pints at the Rose. Or the green-blue-yellow hues that marked the changes in the light, as the days and seasons marched over the village and the river. And now, just snow. Endless snow."
A young man is found brutally murdered in the middle of the snowed-in village of Wivenhoe. Over his body stands another man, axe in hand. The gathered villagers must deal with the consequences of an act that no-one tried to stop.
WIVENHOE is a haunting novel set in an alternate present, in a world that is slowly waking up to the fact that it is living through an environmental disaster. Taking place over twenty-four hours and told through the voices of a mother and her adult son, we see how one small community reacts to social breakdown and isolation.
Samuel Fisher imagines a world, not unlike our own, struck down and on the edge of survival. Tense, poignant, and set against a dramatic landscape, WIVENHOE asks the question: if society as we know it is lost, what would we strive to save? At what point will we admit complicity in our own destruction?
Quiet, fable-like menace radiates from every page of Wivenhoe. Elegant and searching, it asks vital questions about what it means to be part of a community - about integrity, belonging, and how darkness can go unchecked when isolation and suspicion sets in - questions that now feel more relevant than ever.
Wivenhoe explores the ways disasters make us both less and more ourselves. I was particularly moved by Fisher's careful tallying of the small choices that are made within a family - the secret hurts and private allegiances. While it is a book about climate change, dystopias and all, it is at the root about love. I loved it.
Samuel Fisher is a writer, bookseller and publisher. His debut novel, The Chameleon (Salt, 2018) was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize, shortlisted for the Collyer Bristow Prize and won a Betty Trask in 2019. He co-owns Burley Fisher Books in Hackney and is a director of Peninsula Press.