The Light in the Dark

Paperback edition released 03/10/2019

by Horatio Clare

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LoveReading Expert Review of The Light in the Dark

This winter journal is a poignant yet uplifting, and emotionally observant read, it just has to feature as one of our Star Books.

Offering a deep and abiding connection with nature and our landscape around us, this winter journal really is the most poignant yet uplifting, and emotionally observant read. Horatio Clare explains in his prologue that he is embracing winter, in order to raise a torch against depression. Declaring that “I will not lose touch with nature”, he says he wants to stop turning inwards, and start looking outwards. What follows is a journal that starts on the 16 October and travels through winter into early Spring. With a gift for seeing what others may have missed, for expressing and painting with words, Horatio Clare is able to take the reader by the hand and share the memory with us too. As he battles the darkness to be found in winter, he sends out a blazing light. I adored the snippets of new-found (for me) information, including that in Welsh lore dragons thrive as green woodpeckers. I have since seen a green woodpecker in their low, darting, rolling flight with completely new eyes! The Light in the Dark is so eloquently descriptive and beautiful, emotional goosebumps kept me company as I read, and oh, that ending! Highly recommended, this just had to feature as one of our Star Books.

Liz Robinson

The Light in the Dark Synopsis

As November stubs out the glow of autumn and the days tighten into shorter hours, winter's occupation begins. Preparing for winter has its own rhythms, as old as our exchanges with the land. Of all the seasons, it draws us together. But winter can be tough.

It is a time of introspection, of looking inwards. Seasonal sadness; winter blues; depression - such feelings are widespread in the darker months. But by looking outwards, by being in and observing nature, we can appreciate its rhythms. Mountains make sense in any weather. The voices of a wood always speak consolation. A brush of frost; subtle colours; days as bright as a magpie's cackle. We can learn to see and celebrate winter in all its shadows and lights.

In this moving and lyrical evocation of a British winter and the feelings it inspires, Horatio Clare raises a torch against the darkness, illuminating the blackest corners of the season, and delving into memory and myth to explore the powerful hold that winter has on us. By learning to see, we can find the magic, the light that burns bright at the heart of winter: spring will come again.

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The Light in the Dark Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

Horatio Clare writes with great candour and generosity in The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal, offering a fierce flicker of hope to others in this illuminating contemplation of his own depression.

When Clare’s early September birthday prompts thoughts of winter, a season he’s struggled through in recent years, he recalls how: “Last winter I thought I would go mad with depression. I was mad, but aware-mad, at least.”

Clare tries to find and harness winter’s beauty and light to help him function better and be more present for his family. His journal is an attempt to avoid being pulled under again, by bleak weather and drab washed-out colours; loss of daylight and warmth; layers that muffle sound and feeling and by the withdrawal or hibernation of living creatures.

He might not stave off his depression but where he was “aware-mad” last winter, I’d say he’s “aware-depressed” here. In noting down and describing what he sees, he conducts a remarkable reappraisal of what some consider to be a dead season, discovering the colour and beauty of winter, and finding life in muted, often lonely isolation.

Clare’s ferocious love for his family and the natural world comes through in this lyrical and moving record of his debilitating battle with depression. Its pages whisper hope and come with a promise that, no matter how weak or subdued, the light is still there in winter. Horatio Clare reveals the truth in this through being an admirably honest and tenacious torchbearer here, and by opening himself up to others, he encapsulates The Light in the Dark.

Kathryn Eastman

Horatio Clare Press Reviews

[Clare] is a fine observer, and the lushness of his prose offers a striking contrast with the stark lineaments of the winter landscape, both physical and spiritual.

- Jane Shilling, Evening Standard;

This is a very powerful book indeed .... Supremely well-written ... Clare is a brilliantly inventive prose stylist, and some of his descriptive writing here is so good it makes you stop and smile and immediately read it again.

- Roger Cox, The Scotsman;

Vivid, luminous prose

- The Observer;

Magical, moving and deeply atmospheric - this is a hymn to nature, to the north and to the hardest of seasons

- Patrick Barkham;

A treasure of a book, wonderfully attentive in outlook and generous in spirit

- Amy Liptrot;


- Emma Mitchell;

Cosy as a log fire, bracing as a moorland squall ... a potential life-saver for those of us who - like Clare himself - are wont to enter a state of low morale come November ... When the mercury plummets, forget hygge, save on scented candles, and read this instead

- Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller;

This sensuous evocation of winter darkness is a startlingly honest escape from seasonal depression. Horatio Clare beams through his own despair by exposing the intimacy of family love in the fiercely shafting light of his glittering prose.

- John Lister-Kaye;

An enthralling book of beauty and pain, tenderness and imaginative absorption ... [Horatio Clare is a] prose-poet of mesmerising lyricism

- Juliet Nicolson, Spectator;

Thoughtful, careful writing that speaks from the heart ... ideal for curling up with during the darker days, especially if you suffer at all from the winter blues. ... This is a quiet celebration of life

- New Welsh Review;

Lyrical and beautiful

- Kate Blincoe;

A beautifully written book that struck a chord with me on many occasions ... insightful and thought provoking

- Books and Me blog;

The Light in the Dark is a moving and poetic look at this time of year and one book I rejoice in. This is a torch to guide us through the dark winter days until spring's first rays of light warm us

- John Fish, The Last Word Book Review;

Inspiring ... If you're a fan of Matt Haig, I would definitely recommend this too

-- Buttercupreview;

Throughout the book there's a real magical quality to the imagery... I found that I spent some time going back over particular sentences because they were so lovely ... There is much to reflect upon in this winter journal, particularly if you too struggle with darker days

-- Jaffareadstoo;

A beautiful, moving and poignant meditation on the changing of the seasons. It gave me solace as the nights draw in ever faster and left me with a sense of hope for the spring to come. I adored reading this book and I know it will be one I read again in the years to come. I'll definitely be buying copies for friends and I'll be recommending it every chance I get. It's a beautiful book and one I won't forget!


As we all approach another winter, this book may provide not only solace, but an exemplar for those whose personal shadows are amplified in dark times. The lesson, `Look outwards' is a good one

- Peter Reason, Shiny New Books;

This was such a stunning read, full of wonderful imagery and beautiful writing... Horatio Clare made me realise that there is beauty to be found outside in the depths of winter, if I will seek it out

- Secret Library Book Blog; 5* -

Clare's writing is taut, sparse and charged with emotion

- Half Man Half Book;

It is a book to be read aloud ... There is no end to the irrepressible courage that has made this book possible. It is a triumph over affliction by a great writer and when the light returns and he knows he is coming through, my heart is full and I am cheering

- Sue Brooks, Caught by the River

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781783964628
Publication date: 03/10/2019
Format: Paperback

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About Horatio Clare

Horatio Clare has worked on Front Row and Nightwaves, and produced Radio 3's The Verb. Born in 1973, Clare has written for The Spectator, the New Statesman, the Guardian, and the Daily Telegraph.

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