Beyond Black

Hilary Mantel

Alison Hart is a medium by trade: dead people talk to her, and she talks back. With her flat-eyed, flint-hearted sidekick, Colette, she tours the dormitory towns of London’s orbital road, passing on messages from dead ancestors: ‘Granny says she likes your new kitchen units.’

Alison’s ability to communicate with spirits is a torment rather than a gift. Behind her plump, smiling and bland public persona is a desperate woman. She knows that the next life holds terrors that she must conceal from her clients. Her days and nights are haunted by the men she knew in her childhood, the thugs and petty criminals who preyed upon her hopeless, addled mother, Emmie. They infiltrate her house, her body and her soul; the more she tries to be rid of them, the stronger and nastier they become.

This tenth novel by Hilary Mantel is a witty and deeply sinister story of dark secrets and forces, set in an England that jumps at its own shadow, a country whose banal self-absorption is shot through by fear of the engulfing dark.

Reviews of Beyond Black

  • ‘As a piece of prose it’s magnificent, but as a work of imagination it comes right out of the heart of the cold uncanny depths. It’s one of the greatest ghost stories in the language, but it’s far more than just a ghost story – it’s a novel of desperate truthfulness – a majestic work, truly.’ Philip Pullman

    ‘Laceratingly observant, a masterpiece of wit, heavy with atmosphere. It is also gloriously insolent and slyly funny: full of robust, uncluttered prose and searing moments.’ Independent

    ‘Pins elusive middle England to the page in all its creepiness: a place blank and disconnected, yet fatally self-absorbing.’ Rachel Cooke, Observer

    ‘”Beyond Black” is chilling, creepy and endlessly inventive.’ Kate Saunders, The Times

    ‘Hilary Mantel has done something extraordinary. She has taken the ethereal halfway house between heaven and hell, between the living and the dead and nailed it on the page.’ Fay Weldon, Guardian

    ‘A deep, disturbing, violently amusing and subversive work. It is Mantel’s compassion for the ordinary people who live and die in such unlovely places that illuminates this dark book and creates its black lustre.’ Ruth Scurr, Daily Telegraph

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