Black Spring by Alison Croggon

 Publication date: October  2012
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN:  978-1406339581
Page count: 287
Price: €11.45
Age group: 14+ Older teens

Black Spring by Alison Croggon, award-winning poet, editor, critic and playwright, is a re-imagining of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the same Gothic love story with a fantasy twist of witches, wizards and the vengeance code of vendetta.

Black Spring is unique in YA as it is written in a layered, almost poetic prose. Lina (Kathy) returns home to the barbaric north. She’s a witch and is under threat from the wizards. (While wizards rule, the witches are burnt.) Her foster brother Damek is brooding and infatuated with Lina.

When Lina and Damek lose their father, they also lose their land. The King gives it to Masko a spiteful gambler. Lina and Damek suffer by Masko’s mistreatment, which was at times almost too grotesque to read.
Hammel (Mr. Lockwood) misadventures to Dameks house and is taken ill after the satanic treatment. While he recuperates, Anna (Nelly) tells him the doomed story of Lina, Damek and Tibor (Edgar) and their tragic story.

The vendetta is explained well and adds to the sense of constant unease and suspense; it highlights how unfair people are treated by something that is considered to be the social norm. This parallels with Lina, if she were a man she would be accepted and revered.

There are two narrators, Anna and Hammel but the main character is Lina. She is the center of attention both in this story and on the page; just as she would have wanted.

Self-centered Lina and Damek tragic ends occur as a result of external influences, whereas it’ss the obsessive love between Heathcliff and Cathy that brings about their end. The true hero of this story is Anna, she is wise, level-headed and empathic.

I would heartily recommend a read,  the beautiful prose alone is worth it.
Review copy (PBB) gratefully received from Walker Books.

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