Customer Reviews


15 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid descriptive writing from a new young talented writer
A wildlife park in the middle of England is the unusual backdrop to this novel which mostly features three characters all dealing with the aftermath of the owner's death two years before.

Maggie, the widow of David, is left to cope with the running of the park, while her only `friend' is the hostile Louisa who has been in love with David since they were...
Published on 16 May 2011 by Mrs. C. Colbert

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just misses the mark
This could have been a witty, tightly-spun and inventive book - and there is much to like about it, notably the spotlight on unrequited love (and the un-put-downable build-up of tension at the finish). However, none of the protagonists are wholly believable and neither are their relationships one-to-the-other. Louisa's blowing cold-hot-cold over Maggie reminded me of...
Published on 17 July 2012 by charlie


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid descriptive writing from a new young talented writer, 16 May 2011
By 
Mrs. C. Colbert (Blackburn, Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Hardcover)
A wildlife park in the middle of England is the unusual backdrop to this novel which mostly features three characters all dealing with the aftermath of the owner's death two years before.

Maggie, the widow of David, is left to cope with the running of the park, while her only `friend' is the hostile Louisa who has been in love with David since they were teenagers, and who is jealous of and resents Maggie.

Louisa lives in a cottage across the field from 'the big house' where Maggie and Christopher live and constantly spies on her.

Christopher, David's teenage son from his first marriage, lives with Maggie, he is unpredictable, slightly psychotic, has a habit of speaking the truth, is obsessed with Robin Hood and knows that Louisa watches them in their `big house'.

As life goes on in the park Maggie and Louisa start to let their barriers down and gradually become close friends, confiding in each other, Louisa helping in the park as well as looking after her beloved hawks and for a while they both start looking forward.....then Adam (a man with an unusual adult occupation!) enters their life and their friendship is tested.

Louisa's romance with Adam formed quite a large part of the story ......... I really liked Adam but my main doubt was that I just couldn't see what he saw in the unfriendly, unpopular 47 yr old Louisa who lived for her hawks. It seemed an unlikely friendship to me and I found it difficult to believe.

The character I liked the most was Christopher, though I probably shouldn't as he was so weird, but he did make me laugh with his honesty. He once refused to eat meat for a while as he feared retribution from the animals in the park. Maggie took him to the cinema (from page 231) .....

""She watched Christopher bite into a nacho loaded with various mush. He closed his eyes while he chewed, and sighed with pleasure, as if he'd just taken some life-saving antidote. Crisp shards fell into his hand, which he had readied below his chin for that purpose. He pushed the crumbs in, too. Against all odds, it was fun to watch. When had Maggie last enjoyed food to such an extent? She laughed, and Christopher laughed too, unable to contain his pleasure.""

I enjoyed the writing, it was easy and simple and flowed quickly. The idea of having a wildlife park in the background was very original and his observations of the falcons and the hawks was a joy to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just misses the mark, 17 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Paperback)
This could have been a witty, tightly-spun and inventive book - and there is much to like about it, notably the spotlight on unrequited love (and the un-put-downable build-up of tension at the finish). However, none of the protagonists are wholly believable and neither are their relationships one-to-the-other. Louisa's blowing cold-hot-cold over Maggie reminded me of those T shirts popular with Gay men in the 1990s: Danger! Next Mood Swing Ten Minutes Away! Equally, Adam's falling in love with his stalker strained credulity, particularly bearing in mind she's stroppy, of no great looks or allure, and biologically old enough to be his mother. We all know surly/dysfunctional teenagers and many of us have come across youngsters with additional needs, but the character of Christopher just does not ring true - the ingredients are there, but the mixture does not set. The author needed a harsher editor, I fear.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Accomplished and understated, a gem of a novel that manages to perturb and ultimately to reassure, 16 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Paperback)
In The Hunger Trace, Edward Hogan's second novel, we're led through a landscape that feels simultaneously familiar, intimidating and astonishing. Derbyshire and falconry; a wildlife park and a love triangle that includes a deceased husband; a young man with special needs and a preoccupation with Robin Hood . . . Each of these themes has outward charms to be sure. But take a closer look, the way Hogan does, at these characters' precarious existence, at their preoccupations and how they pit themselves against one another. Battles over territory, mating privileges and tests of strength pulse beneath the surface of seemingly mild personalities.

There are three characters we come to know intimately. Maggie, the young widow of David Bryant, pretty, placid and urban who inherits a languishing wildlife park. Christopher, her stepson, who is difficult and vulnerable, and at odds with his stepmother. Finally, Louisa, a woman who lives on the estate and who keeps no company except her hawks.

David is the centre of their world - and the void in it. Louisa in particular pines for him because she has the longest history with David though the true nature of her craving is obscured by the hold she had over him in life.

The natural world seeps into these relationships, literally and figuratively. There are practical problems to solve like when the herd of ibex are set free by persons unknown and tracked down to Morrison's car park, or when the worst rains in a century come, flooding roads and endangering the raptors' aviary. At times like these Maggie and Louisa have no choice but to work together, for whom else can they turn to?

Maggie is the warmer of the two women and sees better then Louisa does how much they have in common. Louisa, made bitter by experience, is unwilling to relinquish the comforts of isolation. They're ostensibly rivals though the object of their mutual affection has died. The language and gestures are human; the forces moving them are animal.

Christopher is more than just a troubled teen, he is an abandoned child in a man's body. His real mother is alive and well and has had nothing to do with him for years. He cannot accept the maternal overtures from Maggie for what they appear to be. What he would like most is to create his own family where he's the man of the house or, alternatively, live the life of a noble outlaw in Sherwood Forrest. Neither dream is very realistic. Christopher is the physical embodiment of David, the new focus of Maggie and Louisa's emotions, challenging and unpredictable. He requires no less patience than an injured animal who may attempt to bite you while you're trying to save it.

The recurring image of falconry in this book is excellent. The delicate balance between care of the birds to keep them healthy, and the measured denial of food to keep them returning to the falconer's fist works for numerous reasons, exposing the complexity of the human relationships that surround. This is but one example of Hogan's creative brainpower, whose prose is crisp, the sounds and views of Derbyshire beautifully recreated. Equally impressive is the thorny friendship between Louisa and Maggie, how it deepens through the story, how each finds themselves influenced by the other.

Jealousy, hostility, helplessness and growth. The reader's instincts constantly prickle. The Hunger Trace is accomplished and understated, a gem of a novel that manages to perturb and ultimately to reassure. For when we are consumed by terrible pain, what better therapy is there than to take care of a creature more fragile than ourselves?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 8 Feb 2013
By 
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Paperback)
I've just listened to the audio book of this and it blew me away. I found it hard to believe the author is a twenty-something male - he explores the female psyche so well, and they're not young females either.

The character of Christopher - who is somewhere on the autistic spectrum - was brilliantly depicted, and maybe it helped that the narrator brought the writing so vividly to life - a lot can depend on the quality of the narrating with an audio-book.

I wouldn't have imagined being so gripped by descriptions of falconry, or flooding, or the day-to-day running of an animal farm, but despite the almost lyrical style of writing the story is primarily driven by the complex characters of Louisa Smedley - in particular - Maggie, Chrisptopher and Adam, with the backstory of Maggie and Lousia's relationship with David Bryant skillfully woven in. I grew to care about them all, and was sorry when I'd finished.

I've already started listening to Hogan's earlier novel, Blackmoor, and it's shaping up to be every bit as good.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Overall - a bit melancholic, 6 Feb 2013
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Paperback)
The 'hunger trace' of the title is an interruption in the growth of the feathers in a bird of prey as a result of starvation. We don't learn this until well over half way through the book, and made me wonder why it was chosen for the title.

The story centres on three main characters: Maggie is the young widow of David and owner of the Derbyshire estate which is being run as a wildlife estate; Christopher is David's son, a teenager and not quite normal and Louisa, an old friend of David's who lives on the estate and whose passion is falconry.

As the story opens, the relationship between Maggie and Louisa is strained and cool. Louisa is a loner, Maggie is lonely. Maggie, with a high degree of determination, decides on making friends with Louisa. Louisa has built barricades around herself, and as they fall away and life begins to happen, her ability to cope is undermined.

In my opinion, the blurb on the back cover leans a bit towards hyperbole, gving the impression that there is more plot than there actually is. Overall I would say this novel is more of a character study of loneliness and isolation than a plot driven novel. I enjoy slow stories that treat dysfunction with compassion, so this was a good read for me, however some readers might find it a bit dragging.

There is a lot about falconry, which adds an interesting element, but the backdrop of the wildlife park, which might attract some readers, is in fact peripheral to the story.

This might sit on my bookshelf alongside The Cold Eye of Heaven or Italian Shoes both of which are similarly melancholic studies of isolation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Falconic Novel, 29 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Kindle Edition)
Let's face it, the real stars are the raptors and the insight into falconry is a bonus in this novel. After what I thought to be a shaky start, the story bursts into life with strong, if somewhat quirky characters moving through conflict and friendship. The strange and fiesty Louisa, elegant Maggie, teenage nightmare Christopher and broad spoken Derbyshire male prostitute Adam seem an impossible mix but author Edward Hogan brings them together successfully in a captivating tale. The scenic description adds a touch of class, as the mystery in Louisa's past is unravelled. Great climax and great read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome read, 28 Mar 2011
By 
Bookworm (South of England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Hardcover)
In some ways, this book is rather like the birds of prey which feature in it - it's spare, hard, tough, impressive and fundamentally beautiful. Hogan's prose is deceptively simple - he makes first class writing look easy. His powers of observation are astonishing and engaging, and his characters are complex, three dimensional and never predictable. I am just so impressed with 'The Hunger Trace'. I loved it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars couldn't give it more, 23 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Kindle Edition)
I'm afraid this was just not my kind of book.I found the characters dull and too ordinary. I really had to make myself pick up the story and eventually finish it
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'nothing is forgotten', 3 Mar 2011
By 
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Hardcover)
The death of David Bryant, owner of a wildlife park in Derbyshire leaves the park with an uncertain future and turmoil in the lives of those closest to him: his younger wife Maggie, son Christopher and long time friend Louisa. Maggie is left with the lame legacy of a failing business, a singular son with specific needs who isn't hers biologically and the welter of emotions that come with grief. As the trophy wife she is isolated from those she works with, lives with and alongside; but it is through the animals that she is considered to have little understanding of that we gain insights, like the deer that she hopes to add to the park, whose 'seasonal desires' match her own increased and then waning sexuality in the wake of David's death.

'...the antlers growing as the hormones raced, the blood-rich velvet nourishing the hard bone beneath and then peeling raggedly. She loved the ugly, aching bellow. It was an unmajestic, hurt sound. During the rut, the neck of a red deer stag increases exponentially in muscle mass; such spontaneous gains are unrivalled in the animal world. And at the end of the season, the antlers fell off, one by one.'

She is surprised by the increase in her libido, calling on the services of a male escort, Adam; her night-time trysts observed by neighbour Louisa. Louisa is a fascinating character. Her connection to the park is as a falconer and Hogan makes brilliant use of its terms and language in order to illuminate the lives of his human characters, including the novel's title (of which more later). But Louisa also has a far deeper connection to David, having been friends with him since they were schoolchildren and, more particularly, because they had long shared a terrible secret. He and the hawks have been so important to her in fact that looking back over her forty-seven years she can see that 'almost every decision had been taken with one or both of those concerns in mind.' David has played an especially important role and that secret I mentioned, that could be viewed as a terrible sacrifice on her part, is balanced the 'parts of David within her: stories, reflections, physical gestures that she had picked up over the long years of friendship.'

It isn't always as po-faced as that sounds. That kind of familiarity also gives rise to moments of humour, as when she recalls the particular facial expression David wore when talking about his son, Christopher, 'The sort of frozen, distant smile you affect when your horse comes a close third behind your mother-in-law's.' Christopher is set up early as a dangerous presence. A child in a man's body who sees 'the world askance', a large man-child of 18 hovering somewhere between adolescence and adulthood with anti-psychotic medication and the habit of peppering his speech with' erm's' (that quickly become, erm, annoying); we as the reader are never given the opportunity to completely relax in his presence. Sometimes he seems to be harmless, other times we worry that he might be about to sexually assault Louisa or even his step-mother. His obsession with what lies behind the myth of Robin Hood helps to develop the novel's brilliantly atmospheric final section where a deluge of biblical proportions mixes with equally stormy relationships. It is here that Hogan's writing really excels; location, mood and content all perfectly matched to help the climax achieve lift-off.

As mentioned previously animals naturally play a hugely important role in the book and the title itself comes from the world of falconry, explained when Louisa takes charge of a bird that has been neglected.

'Diamond's story was written on his feathers - nothing sentimental or pretentious about that claim. When a falcon is undernourished, the feathers cannot grow properly. A fault line appears, even if the bird is fed again. The fault is called a hunger trace.'

In many ways each of the principal characters has their own hunger trace, something in their past that has scarred them as obviously as any outward physical sign, and in the same way that a feather with a fault in it must have some impact on a bird's ability to fly, so to Louisa, Maggie, Christopher and Adam struggle to deal satisfactorily with what life throws at them. You might even think that the appropriation of one of a falcon's natural attributes, the extraordinary eyesight that effectively helps them to see the movement of the world in slow-motion and thus make them formidable birds of prey, might help them to see things better but even that might not be enough.

'The thing about seeing the world slowed down, she thought, was that you could watch something terrible unfolding, without the ability to do anything about it. Perhaps you would not even notice that it was happening.'

A character who is a male escort may be a rather convenient way of examining and complicating the desires of the two female characters (I'm not sure how common a profession it is in the peaks of Derbyshire) but, that small niggle aside, the characters themselves are well developed and the trajectory each takes in the aftermath of David's death is always interesting. Anyone who has watched an accident unfold could attest to the way in which time seems to slow down. As hinted at in the extract above the reader of this novel can be fascinated by that same inevitability, unable to look away as it reaches its conclusion.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Second Novel..., 14 Mar 2012
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Hunger Trace (Hardcover)
From the very start of `The Hunger Trace' I had an early inkling that this would be a book for me. It opens with two women, who clearly don't like each other for reasons we don't know as yet, having to capture a herd of ibex which have ended up in the local supermarket car park, using a van and a lot of shopping trolleys. There was a drama and humour in all this, along with a certain mystery, that instantly worked for me leaving me captivated, even better was this was a sense of feeling that Hogan managed to retain throughout the book.

`The Hunger Trace' has the unusual setting of a rambling wildlife park in the Derbyshire peaks high on a hillside with the village of Detton below. (This really called to me because in my home town of Matlock we have a castle on the hillside called Riber which was itself a zoo for many years, when it closed the owners moved next door to us with their eagle and other menagerie of creatures, which I was allowed to visit.)In this unusual setting we meet three people deeply affected by the death of the parks owner David Bryant; his second much younger wife Maggie, his son from the previous marriage Christopher and lifelong acquaintance Louisa who lives in one of the lodges on the site look after the birds of prey.

Each of these characters is coming to terms with the loss in their lives but also with how to relate to one another. Louisa, to put it mildly, doesn't like Maggie for reasons that become apparent as the book goes on so I won't spoil, I shall merely tempt you by saying that Louisa and David shared a secret in their youths. Maggie herself has to cope with taking on a venture like the wildlife park which she had never planned to be her role in life and also missing her husband and the emptiness in her life he has left in several ways. Christopher is working out not only how to cope with his step mother, especially now she is taking over all aspects of his life, he is also learning how to deal with the world as someone who is a bit different, I read him as being autistic though it's never spelt out, and is often misunderstood or perceived as a threatening force. Things have been simmering a while and over the space of a few months and the arrival of Adam, a male escort (shocking, ha) and another character used to isolation and not quite fitting in with secrets abound, seems to start to bring things to a head.

Hogan's writing and storytelling is incredible, especially in the underlying and unsaid. He somehow manages to highlight the way people feel about each other in not only what they say and its delivery but even more impressively, and true to life, in what they don't say. It's those small actions, sideways looks, and delivery of tone which we have all witnessed in real life which Hogan manages to make come off the page, something that is incredibly hard to do. Normally in fictions it is either the spoken work or inner monologue, and while Hogan does this both of these things too, it is those smaller actions which he makes say so much.

Atmosphere is one of the things that `The Hunger Trace' is also filled with. Like with his previous novel `Blackmoor' Derbyshire is a brooding and slightly menacing presence, the landscape always features in the novel as those brooding moors, the winding hilly roads you worry your about to drive off and the forests which always seem to hold so many secrets linger in the background (being from there myself his descriptions really hit home). Hogan interestingly propels all these feelings and features in all of his characters be it in the slightest of ways. Christopher is a prime example, he is often very funny with his binge drinking and utter bluntness and yet there is always a slightly threatening feeling of danger with him, you never know what he might say or do next, these feelings spread throughout the book and your always just on the edge of your seat, rather like standing on the precipice of a Derbyshire valley with the wind almost pushing you over the edge.

There is a real sense of humour in this novel, dark but often very funny, yet in many ways it is a moving tale of people and their sense of isolation or being an outsider often leading to events in their pasts be the recent or from years ago. These are events that leave a trace on you and which is described beautifully when Louisa discusses her prized bird Diamond who she saves and leads to the novels title. `When a falcon is undernourished, the feathers cannot grow properly. A fault line appears, even if the bird is fed again. The fault is called a hunger trace.' It is this hunger trace that runs through the main character of this novel and their obsessions which keep the real world at bay be they Louisa's birds, Christopher's obsession with Robin Hood or Maggie's need to succeed despite what anyone else says.

If you haven't guessed already, I thought `The Hunger Trace' was an utterly marvellous book. It is superbly written, its characters live and breathe from the page and you are always left wanting more of both the humour and the dark sense of impending menace and mystery. I simply cannot recommend it enough, easily one of my favourite books of the year. It is books like this which really make reading worthwhile and I hope that many more people discover this gem of a novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Hunger Trace
The Hunger Trace by Edward Hogan (Hardcover - 3 Mar 2011)
11.09
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews