Elmet by Fiona Mozley review – the wild card on the Man Booker longlist

This dark debut about a family living on the outskirts of society is an impressive slice of contemporary noir steeped in Yorkshire legend

Fiona Mozley’s Man Booker-longlisted debut is an elemental, contemporary rural noir steeped in the literature and legend of the Yorkshire landscape and its medieval history. Doncaster is the nearest orienting location, the geographic heart of the ancient kingdom from which the novel takes its name and on which Ted Hughes based the Remains of Elmet cycle of poems. Robyn Hode and his people’s uprising nourish the narrative. As Mozley’s narrator Daniel has it: “The soil was alive with ruptured stories that cascaded and rotted then found form once more and pushed up through the undergrowth and back into our lives.”

Daniel and his sister Cathy live in a house they and their Daddy have built with their bare hands near the main East Coast rail line. ...