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Wreaking by James Scudamore

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

A dark, disturbing and very clever novel which steadily and mysteriously builds to its chilling climax, difficult to describe without giving too much away. Wreaking itself is a brilliantly brought-to-life former mental hospital where Jasper Scriven now presides – dreams of turning it into a private school long forgotten – and where terrible things happened in its terrible past. His daughter wants little to do with it, but watching her is Roland, a shadowy criminal who isn’t going to let her forget what happened in the past.

If you like James Scudamore you might also like to read books by Niala Maharaj, Richard House and Nathan Filer.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. A painful, suggestive and intense novel about sanity, selfhood and the illusive quality of memory, this is an impressive work from the critically acclaimed author of Heliopolis. It tells the story of Jasper Scriven, a dying former teacher living in a decaying psychiatric hospital he once intended to turn into a school, his adult daughter Cleo, and her troubled childhood friend Roland. Each of them tries to recollect and make sense of the past, recalling the summer after the hospital’s closure, and the terrible accident at its end. Yet, the truth as it is revealed seems somehow more elusive, in this astonishingly poetic and evocative novel.
~ Susie Cogan

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Wreaking by James Scudamore

This is a brilliantly dark and unsettling novel from the author of the Booker longlisted Heliopolis and one of the UK's most talented young writers. Perilously ill, Jasper Scriven spends his days roaming the wards of a derelict psychiatric hospital on England's southeast coast. His daughter Cleo works in London as a news editor, making palatable stories of the world's events and trying to stay one step ahead of her demons. Meanwhile, she is watched by Roland, a hulking, silent figure who inhabits a network of railway arches, emerging at night to pound the streets and burgle homes to order. These three solitary characters are connected by an accident that took place at the hospital in the aftermath of its closure - an event that defies understanding even as it continues to define them. Their attempts to negotiate the past will bring them together again and force them to revisit their actions, however uncomfortable that may be. In this brilliantly imagined and disturbing novel, James Scudamore explores the fallibility of memory, the notion of madness and the way events resound in both people and places.


Scudamore is a richly imaginative fabulist -- Alan Warner Scotsman

A quietly remarkable novel that resonates with universality - Literary Review

A creepy chronicle of abuse, abandonment and unrequited love... So much here is brilliant - Metro

A gripping exploration of mental illness... A compelling update of a Gothic novel... The real pleasure of this book is Mr Scudamore's masterly and unflinching prose - The Economist

About the Author

James Scudamore was born 1976. He lives in London.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th July 2014


James Scudamore

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Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing


400 pages


Literary Fiction
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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