This novel, if we can call it that, plots a course towards apocalypse with an admirable lack of overexcitement. It’s a novel in which things fall apart, in which the centre cannot hold, but in which there is always time for a detour into local history. It’s a hallucinatory piece of work – Gareth Rees, narrating, sees Dungeness ablaze and tells of an eel with a head the size of an armchair in Dover harbour – but it’s seldom lurid. It’s essentially about breakdown (his, ours), but it’s a controlled fall, a strangely methodical collapse.
Hastings, here, is the setting for the end of the world. Rees and his young family occupy a Victorian fixer-upper near the sea; Rees, soon bored by the hard work of renovation, finds himself possessed by the town and its past. The reader