Brocken spectre: the magnified and detached shadow of an observer; typically on a mountain.
The peace of an isolated Lake District university campus is disturbed b y the arrival of mature student, Hild. For Miriam and Ed, the newcomer brings darkness and disorder which reshapes every aspect of their lives, and strikes at the core of their relationship.
Miriam is determined to exorcise the shadow Hild has cast, but how? And can she justify keeping another woman out of the light, the education, she has enjoyed?
‘The spectre stalked me…Its mimicry summoned you…Heddi, seducer, strife-bringer Whatever happened to you was always a disappointment, or worse…So unlike me. So like me’, so says Miriam, reflecting on her story.
Hild, a mature student studying English, joins Ed’s university classes and starts writing. Rom there on, her life becomes entwined with Ed and with Miriam. She’s a shadowy, tentative figure, nervous and full of doubt – or is that simply the impression she wants to portray? Either way, she’s always there, her motives unclear. The shifting relationship of the trio crystalises into a story of identity and obsession with the two women at the forefront.
Miriam and Hild rub each other up the wrong way from the start. Each so different to the other on the surface, fundamentally they’re not dissimilar and they feed off one another. For a while it seems possible that Hild is a figment of Miriam’s imagination – and then comes their final confrontation.
Brockenspectre is a clever, well-written novel, with a strong story of obsession at its heart. It’s atmospheric and haunting, yet at the same time very real. The strong sense of place helps, as do the naturally portrayed and very complex characters. None of them are that easy to like, but you’ll certainly care about what happens to them and why.
Caroline Moir studied for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where the idea of Brockenspectre originally began. She has had commissions from BBC Radio Leeds and Kendal Community Theatre, and in 2016, she established writing workshops with playwright Daragh Carrville and novelist Zosia Wand. In 2018, she commissioned writers for The Trouble with Women festival.
In addition to Brockenspectre, Caroline has just finished another novel, Hunting Jenet Nish, set in British Columbia, and is currently writing the first of two prequels, as well as a memoir in short stories, the swaying corridors of the wagon-lits.
Brockenspectre is from Victorina Press, a publisher committed to the concept of bibliodiversity.