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The Borrowed Hills

On sale

11th April 2024

Price: £16.99

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781399812849

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‘Viscerally vivid . . . a sucker-punch of a novel, edged with knife-sharp black humour and shot through with moments of startling beauty . . . half Tarantino and half pitch-black northern realism’ Guardian

‘A tremendously exciting novel . . . A brilliantly realized voice: Steve’s every utterance is the product of where he comes from . . . as blunt and brutal as the fells he works among’ Times Literary Supplement

‘A spiky, precisely focused novel with flavour, intensity, and oodles of character’ The Times

‘Preston’s debut arrives like a punch to the gut . . . This is an elemental tale shaded in tones of heroism, machismo, moral intensity, and mythmaking. It’s also a love song to the landscape . . . Gritty, gripping, and fearlessly committed’ Kirkus

‘A blistering debut . . . This dark and inspired tale pulses with life’ Publishers Weekly

‘Taught, intelligent and beautifully told’ M. J. Hyland

‘A startlingly original addition to the literature of northern England’ Ian McGuire

‘A powerful evocation of a landscape and a way of life’ Joseph Kanon

With foot and mouth disease spreading across the hills of Cumbria, emptying the valleys of sheep and filling the skies with smoke, two neighbouring shepherds lose everything and put aside their rivalry to join forces. They set their sights on a wealthy farm in the south with its flock of prize-winning animals. So begins the dark tale of Steve Elliman and William Herne.

Their sheep rustling leads to more and more difficult decisions, and Steve’s only distraction is his growing fascination with William’s enigmatic and independent wife, Helen. As their home comes under the sway of a lawless outsider, it is left to Steve to save himself and Helen in a savage conflict that threatens an ancient way of life.

Lyrical, cinematic and steeping in folklore, Scott Preston creates an uncompromising vision of farmers lost in brutal devotion to their flocks, the aching love affairs that men and women use to sustain themselves and the painful consequences of a breathtaking heist gone bad. The Borrowed Hills is a thrilling adventure that reimagines the American Western for the fells of northern England.

Reviews

Rebecca Smith, author of RURAL
Utterly absorbing and original, Scott Preston writes with a poet's heart and a cinematic eye. A painfully truthful account of the foot and mouth outbreak and the effects it had on the farming community, The Borrowed Hills shows the other, darker side to the Cumbrian Fells and to rural life up and down the country
Ian McGuire, author of THE NORTH WATER
The Borrowed Hills shows us the Lake District from the inside, from the viewpoint of those who struggle to make a living from the land and who, when the bad times come, are driven to extremity and violence in order to survive. It's a startlingly original addition to the literature of northern England
Carys Davies, author of THE MISSION HOUSE
Scott Preston lifts the veil from the picture-postcard beauty of Britain's Cumbrian fells to expose an atmosphere of festering despair in the lives of two farmers who lose everything when their sheep are destroyed by the government in order to contain an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. When they take desperate measures to rebuild their shattered world, what happens feels tragically inevitable. The Borrowed Hills is a story of anger and violence, devotion, love, and back-breaking hard work, told with dark, dead-pan humour and a rough kind of poetry
M. J. Hyland, author of HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN
A remarkable debut. Taut, intelligent and beautifully told
Joseph Kanon, author of LEAVING BERLIN
You could read this remarkable novel just for its dazzling prose, but there's more: razor sharp dialogue, meshed gear plotting, and above all a powerful evocation of a landscape and a way of life unknown to most of us, until now
Jonathan Whitelaw, author of The Bingo Hall Detectives, Lakeland Book of the Year
An astonishing debut - rarely has a fictionalised Cumbria seemed so vibrant and full of life. Preston weaves a visceral magic with every sentence that will have you completely glued from the get-go. Your new favourite for 2024, I promise!
Kirkus
Preston's debut arrives like a punch to the gut . . . This is an elemental tale shaded in tones of heroism, machismo, moral intensity, and mythmaking. It's also a love song to the landscape . . . Gritty, gripping, and fearlessly committed. A notable beginning
Publishers Weekly
A blistering debut . . . Preston's brilliant tonal range extends from epic heroism, as the men scramble after sheep on shale knee-deep in muck, to uncompromising realism . . . This dark and inspired tale pulses with life
Guardian
Preston's blistering tale of land and violence . . . is written in his distinctive Cumbrian voice, a vernacular stripped to its bones that encompasses stark prose and sudden startling flashes of poetry . . . The result is half Tarantino and half pitch-black northern realism that slides under the skin and lodges deep . . . A sucker-punch of a novel, edged with knife-sharp black humour and shot through with moments of startling beauty
The Times
A spiky debut novel . . . the language delivers a strange poetry [and] blunt wit . . . a precisely focused novel with flavour, intensity and oodles of character
The i
Beguiling and darkly humorous, this is a searing exploration of real events that took place in 2001
Observer
Preston's ambitious debut novel has a noble but surprising aim at its heart: to take the traditions of the western and move them to the hills and valleys of Cumbria. It follows two farmers, Steve Elliman and William Herne, whose flocks have been devastated by foot-and-mouth disease. In an effort to save their livelihoods, they are drawn into a perilous criminal scheme that could either rescue or ruin them. Equal parts Cormac McCarthy and Ross Raisin, this is a lyrical and readable account of desperate men
Times Literary Supplement
A tremendously exciting novel . . . A brilliantly realized voice: Steve's every utterance is the product of where he comes from . . . as blunt and brutal as the fells he works among

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