Polly Vaughan has ended up in Scotland with her mother after a disturbing incident in London. Whilst she is there she is intending to try to wrestle with her coursework to try to get her grades back into shape. Almost immediately though she begins to question what this place is, after seeing a man sitting on a stump plucking and dismembering a bird. But she has other things on her mind and sets about seeking sex, drink and drugs, something that the barman in the pub is happy to assist with.
Living miles from anywhere is unnerving for her having been using to the business of London but she finds he feet and life zips by once again in a boozy and smoke filled haze. However, she begins to see visions and hear strange sounds in the woods and waters of the Loch and can even sense that there is something else out there even when she is stone cold sober. She has a moment when she meets a grandmother of one of her crowd who takes one look at her and says she has been here before, something she brushes off.
Polly comes across the man she saw dismembering the birds once again; she has heard that he has a sinister secret, a fact that terrifies her, but something compels her to find out more about him. As they grow closer together, her visons grow stronger and more tangible until something appears one night that stirs memories that were long suppressed.
It is difficult to categorise this novel; its very heart is a mystery but its setting in the wilds of Scotland add almost timeless elements. It has depth and history in the narrative and the language makes it feel modern and contemporary. In this mix are the supernatural visions and other things that keep happening to Polly which make it very very eerie. The characters in here are not going to be ones that you grow to love, they are sometimes spiky and all have their own deeply flawed elements, however, this adds to the story that is rooted deeply in the folklore of the landscape. Great debut and one to watch out for in the future.