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The Beacon

160 pages

The farmhouse was called The Beacon and they had been born and reared there, May, Colin, Frank and Berenice, but only May had been left for the last twenty-seven years ... May had been the clever daughter and she had escaped the shelter of The Beacon, just once, to go to university. But in London she had been pursued by nameless terrors, the victim of fears and anxieties. Now she was the spinster daughter, the one who stayed, who nursed her father after his accident and looked after her mother in her old age. Frank was the one who got away. He married and moved on. But why does no one dare even to mention Frank's name?
Few novelists are as clever at creating atmosphere as Susan Hill, and in The Beacon she evokes mystery, ambiguity and suspense in a story so brilliantly told, so deftly characterised and so economical with words that it continues to resonate long after the reader has closed the final pages.

Controlled, sparse and powerful writing Woman and Home Beautiful, clean prose...[an] absorbing story Literary Review An almost perfect little literary novel outside any genre...it possesses the light tug of menace and almost invisible haze of tension that characterise Hill's ghost stories...a novel of great structural and stylistic control Guardian Magnificent...It is all done so well, so wisely, that this short book is richly satisfying...it is a little masterpiece Daily Telegraph This enigmatic novella tracks the full impact of Frank's book, probing notions of guilt and truth, and deftly capturing those family bonds that warp even as they appear to nurture Daily Mail Captivating... There is, from the start, a highly charged atmosphere of anxiety and ambiguity...the suspense and mystery work perfectly, and for this Hill's economy is exactly what is needed Financial Times Compelling, cut through with sloe-sharp details as Hill exhibits complete mastery of the tools at her disposal... Like a ringmaster flicking her whip, Hill manipulates an awful, pathetic irony uncoloured by melodrama... Reader's familiar with Hill's novels will not be surprised by the long spell cast by this one. Nor will they be disappointed in this spare and understated book, whose richness and intensity belie its elegant economy of effect. It is a moving, evocative and rewarding novel The Times Short, beautifully crafted and gripping... Hill's astute and skilful probing of motives and the ambiguities of appearances extends the reach of the novel much wider Sunday Times A clever novel that's timeless in its tension-building storytelling Good Housekeeping A brilliantly eerie little tale...with a very adroitly handled contemporary theme: the misery memoir Scotland on Sunday

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The Beacon