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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIs best
Like other reviewers I'm a big fan of Paul Torday's writing and I've read everything that's been published.

Northumberland is huge and largely empty of people - Kielder Forest cuts a big, dark swathe through the county and it's a pretty scary place even in mid summer because it is so huge and still. The story evokes the feel of the forest perfectly and it's...
Published 12 months ago by Mrs. Tina Elliott

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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darkness in the forest
When I reviewed Torday's last book, The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall, I happily gave my review the title "I'd like to live in Torday-Land". That was based on his books - up to that point - being largely inhabited by good chaps, with an amusing habit of wandering out of one book into another to show different sides of what was really one complex, evolving story. While they...
Published 24 months ago by D. Harris


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIs best, 20 Dec 2013
By 
Mrs. Tina Elliott (Northumberland UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Like other reviewers I'm a big fan of Paul Torday's writing and I've read everything that's been published.

Northumberland is huge and largely empty of people - Kielder Forest cuts a big, dark swathe through the county and it's a pretty scary place even in mid summer because it is so huge and still. The story evokes the feel of the forest perfectly and it's menace....the characters are entirely absorbing (even the baddie) and while you don't want to know the ending , you'll have to know what it is. Torday's subject is harrowing, it's not a fun read but it's a page-turner of the first order. Well written, utterly absorbing and while I've loved everything else he's written too - this is his best I think. I'm sorry I won't be able to read more of his work - thank you Paul for what you had time to create.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darkness in the forest, 6 Jan 2013
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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When I reviewed Torday's last book, The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall, I happily gave my review the title "I'd like to live in Torday-Land". That was based on his books - up to that point - being largely inhabited by good chaps, with an amusing habit of wandering out of one book into another to show different sides of what was really one complex, evolving story. While they suffered reverses at the hands of scheming banks, nasty property developers or even foreign terrorists, they learned lessons, remained rooted in the soil and generally survived adversity.

This book takes Torday to a rather different, much darker place.

I wouldn't want to live there. I'm not sure I'd even want to visit for long. The book was enjoyable to read - but to those familiar with Torday's earlier books, I think the atmosphere of "Light Shining..." will come as a bit of a shock. Don't just expect more of the same.

The story opens with Geordie, a forestry worker. Geordie is in a dark place both literally (he works alone in the sprawling Kielder forest) and emotionally: his stepson, Theo, has disappeared in strange circumstances. (Torday described the disappearance in his e-book only novella, Theo. While it seems a good idea to provide more insight into the backstory in this way, I'm not sure that the two books work well together, although explaining why would I think be somewhat off topic here, and difficult without spoilers for both books).

We are then introduced to Norman, a minor bureaucrat and a more familiar Tordayish character. Norman has risen without trace through the ranks of the mandarinate to become Regional Childrens' Commissioner (designate) for the North-East. He remains "designate" because the Department have forgotten he exists, although they provide him with a swanky office, an ample salary and a PA, Pippa, who is marking time while she finds a job better suited to her qualifications. Also featuring in the story is a local journalist, Willie, who is desperate to land a Big Story that will take him away from reporting on the opening of beauty salons and school plays. It is Willie who begins to dig into Theo's disappearance and those of other children, and who acts as a spur to Norman to become involved, eventually leading the three to dark revelations and a frightening nighttime encounter in Kielder Forest.

Alongside the investigation by Norma, Pippa and Willie we are also given glimpses into the upbringing of a boy, and the later life of a man, who develops in a most unsettling way. And there is also a strong hint that what the characters are engaged in has a supernatural dimension (something carried over into this book from "Theo"). I don't want to give away the plot by being too specific about this, but it comes into focus during that dark confrontation and is then explored in hindsight as the story winds down - there are some 40 pages of the book remaining after what you might think was actually its climax - for me, the least satisfying part of the book - less because the ending was rather downbeat for most of those involved than because I'm not sure it was really an ending at all).

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and the middle part was very gripping. It is rather different from Torday's earlier books (or at least those I've read) and I think that he's to be commended for this, but I don't think it worked as well as it might. Either of the separate, darker strands - the child abduction and the supernatural hints - would have been enough, perhaps, but taken together they are maybe a bit indigestible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Why did you give him to me, if you were going to take him away?", 19 Sep 2014
By 
Carol (Torrevieja, Spain) - See all my reviews
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Light Shining in the Forest by Paul Torday. Book Review.
"Why did you give him to me, if you were going to take him away again?"
The debate continues here on stigmata and divine intervention versus atheism and agnosticism. Torday stated that the atheists and agnostics might be wrong and that there might be a God. If this makes your blood run cold then perhaps you'll relish the opportunity to be immersed in a story that fuses the genres of thriller, satire, horror and the supernatural as well as love and sex. Forget the religion.
Recently in Madrid a number of young children have been abducted from Ciudad Lineal, one from the Dominican Republic, another Japanese and a Chinese girl as well as some Spanish girls. Torday responded to the Baby P case in the UK by writing this novel in an attempt to highlight the inadequacies of the Social Services and the breakdown of the family unit. Who's to blame? This is his most disturbing and angry work, published the year of his death. "Pure evil has a random quality that it is difficult to predict and arm yourself against."
The story is set in Torday's home territory-Northumberland. We are plunged into the primeval world of fables in the Kielder forest with animals possessing human-like eyes, mysteriously appearing and disappearing, uncomfortable periods of silence. Its inhabitants lived by violence, men who were masterless who acknowledged no King as their ruler. It's a dark, haunting bleak landscape hiding macabre thoughts and acts of barbarity. It's also where Geordie Nixon works as a woodsman.
His relationship with Mary has floundered after the abduction of Theo, a special child who displayed mysterious lacerations and wounds that appeared and disappeared without any logical explanation. "Abusing and losing children is something the nation excels at."
Norman Stokoe is the Children's Czar, a glorified civil servant who receives an extensive salary for sitting in an office doing nothing because of a political shake up. When confronted by the mother of missing Theo he is repulsed at the thought of getting involved. A brazen reporter, ambitious, waiting for the killer-story that will consolidate his future as an investigative reporter shakes up Norman's sanctity. Willie Craig. Two more children, this time girls, are abducted and the police seem lethargic. Norman Stokoe has a change of heart and wants to get to the truth of the matter. Are the police hiding something? Is there a cover up? Why is he threatened? Who is the child abductor? Read it at your peril….
Publisher: Orion
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit horrible but excellent, 1 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Light Shining in the Forest (Kindle Edition)
This is a well written and well constructed book. The subject matter is dark and rather gruesome but the writer handles it well. The emotions of the characters are well conveyed. I do not generally like grizzly books but this one had me captivated. An excellent read but prepare yourself for some uncomfortable material.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, 3 Jan 2014
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Although I found this book disturbing I could not put it down it is a real page turner and kept me on the edge as did 'The Girl on the Landing.' I have read many Paul Torday books and thinmk of it as a great loss he has died - he was a great story teller! If you haven't read Paul's books you should wade your way through them. I began with 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Searching for the light., 28 Mar 2013
The story opens in Kielder forest where Geordie a forestry worker, whose life has been shattered by the disappearance of his young stepson, is doing some back-breaking work. Two young girls subsequently go missing and all three children are from different backgrounds. Norman is a newly appointed children's tsar who, due to a government reshuffle and a change of priorities in the department in which he is employed, has no real work to do but spends his days attending official functions, drinking lattes and enjoying lunch. A local reporter desperate for the "big story" that will make his name, discovers Norman's existence and forces him to engage with the disappearance of the three children. Meanwhile the local police have classified the missing kids as runaways. I won't describe the plot any further in deference to those who have yet to read the book.

I have enjoyed most of Paul Torday's other books and The Girl on the Landing was quite dark but this novel is in a different league in terms of darkness. I was completely absorbed by the the first half of the book but found the latter half disappointing. The supernatural/religious themes were driven home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and I found the embalming and taxidermy elements of this novel difficult. The characters seemed a bit clichéd to me and the final chapters might have benefited from some judicious pruning.

Reading of the little boy born with such severe facial deformity that even his family could not bear to look at him, was singularly distressing notwithstanding what later transpires.

Nevertheless, this book has its moments and Paul Torday does write very well.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different!, 31 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Light Shining in the Forest (Kindle Edition)
I have read all Paul Torday's books and like the easy, charming style of writing and interesting, often eccentric characters. However this was something completely different and quite gripping in its own way. A clever mix of spookiness, religion and evil - and why not? Douglas Kennedy did a similar thing (though at first confusing) in The Woman in the Fifth. From the middle of the book onwards I was unable to put it down. Would make a great film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story, 24 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Light Shining in the Forest (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book and have recommended it to many of my friends. As with Paul Torday's other books, it has an usual storyline and a cast of believable characters with human failings plus, of course, the mystical element. I am so sorry that I will never have the great pleasure of anticipating a new book from Paul Torday.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Light Shining in the Forest (Kindle Edition)
It made my flesh creep. It is so well written. I also read the novella "Theo" which is its partner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazed at this writer's ability to write so many excellent books, each in a completely different style to the last!, 24 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Light Shining in the Forest (Kindle Edition)
I was hooked from the start. Torday's writing style is taught and never fails to draw me into the story. A dark tale with some fine observations and satirical pokes to government. Didn't put it down til I had finished it!
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