Pine by Francine Toon: Heady brew of nature and Celtic mysticism

In his book The Wild Places, Robert Macfarlane discusses how a landscape can sometimes feel neither welcoming nor hostile to your presence, but just “entirely, gradelessly indifferent”. It was a sensation that was used to strangely chilling effect by Jon McGregor in Reservoir 13, where nature is explicitly seen to plough on with its business while a village experiences collective tragedy.

For so many writers, however, there is no escaping the waters and the wild, and just as nature is now becoming a byword for healing, novelists and screenwriters are ensuring that contemporary society’s increasing disconnect from the natural world goes on being exploited for thrills and shivers. There is too much fun to be had, they argue, depicting “the countryside” as an unfamiliar elseworld populated by spectral creatures and dark, smothering forests that are less lungs of the earth than accomplices to the depths of human sin.


Click here to read more in the Irish Independent.