Review Blog

Nov 06 2012

Black Spring by Alison Croggin

cover image

Walker Books, 2013. 283pp.
Recommended for 15+. The blurb on the back of Black Spring describes it as 'an evocative reimagining of Wuthering Heights' and indeed it is. In both books there is the outsider who has travelled to an isolated area and who meets, and hears the story of, the doomed lovesick protagonist who, as a young boy, was adopted into a farming family. Here it is Damek who plays the Heathcliff role and who shares a free, roaming childhood with Lina, the daughter of the master. Like Cathy and Heathcliff, Lina and Damek share a love of nature. Lina, passionate and willful, loves Damek but when, like Heathcliff, he is ousted from his childhood home - here by the foul Masko - and then disappears, she marries the gentle, loving Tibor. Her story mirrors that of Cathy, except that Lina is born a witch with violet eyes. When Damek returns a rich man seeking revenge, the pregnant Lina is torn between her husband and her lover. The story is told by Anna, adopting the role of Ellen in Wuthering Heights, as the sensible, calm, rational, and loyal Christian servant.
The difference between the two books is that this novel focuses on the passionate and volatile relationship between Lina and Damek, whilst Wuthering Heights devotes its second half to the lives of the next generation. Black Spring also has wizards and a vendetta which destroys many of the men-folk. This makes Black Springs a gripping read, with short chapters and sense of place, characters and time expertly realized. Alison Croggin captures the inexplicable passion and madness of the lovers in the same manner that Emily Bronte does. This is a sophisticated read given its length, language and detail but, even so, the many readers who go on to read Wuthering Heights may well find Black Spring a more enjoyable experience.
Kevyna Gardner

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