The Wild Hunt
A BuzzFeed Best Historical Fiction Book of Summer and a Lit Hub Best Book of Summer
One of Crime Reads’ Most Anticipated Books of the Year
A transporting, otherworldly debut of a young woman’s fated return to a wind-battered island off the coast of Scotland, and the dark forces—old and new—that she finds there.
The islanders have only three rules: don’t stick your nose where it’s not wanted, don’t mention the war, and never let your guard down during October.
Leigh Welles has not set foot on the island in years, but when she finds herself called home from life on the Scottish mainland by her father’s unexpected death, she is determined to forget the sorrows of the past—her mother’s abandonment, her brother’s icy distance, the unspeakable tragedy of World War II—and start fresh. Fellow islander Iain MacTavish, an RAF veteran with his eyes on the sky and his head in the past, is also in desperate need of a new beginning. A young widower, Iain struggles to return to the normal life he knew before the war.
But this October is anything but normal. This October, the sluagh are restless. The ominous, birdlike creatures of Celtic legend—whispered to carry the souls of the dead—have haunted the islanders for decades, but in the war’s wake, there are more wandering souls and more sluagh. When a young man disappears, Leigh and Iain are thrown together to investigate the truth at the island’s dark heart and reveal hidden secrets of their own. Rich with historical detail, a skillful speculative edge, and a deep imagination, Emma Seckel’s propulsive and transporting debut The Wild Hunt unwinds long-held tales of love, loss, and redemption.
Intoxicating and atmospheric. . . . This moody meditation delivers.
I cannot wait to read Emma Seckel’s folk-horror-infused new island thriller, The Wild Hunt. The sluagh, or birds rumored to carry the souls of the dead, fly thick above the Scottish islands in October, the skies heavy with the souls of the dead, and in this immediate-post-war-set novel, the spookiest month of the year comes with unique dangers.
Promising premise, beautiful writing.
Seckel weaves historical fiction with mystery and fantastic elements and threads of romance in this tale of love, grief, attachment to place and resistance to change. Her island setting is both otherworldly and firmly rooted, and her prose style is lushly evocative. This imaginative novel is memorable and wild indeed.
What a debut for Emma Seckel! The Wild Hunt is a gorgeous, haunting novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
—Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and The Book That Matters Most
The Wild Hunt is a thriller, and a family drama; a mystery but also a romance; a war novel and a ghost story. It’s a social commentary. It’s a tear-jerker. I’m not sure how one novel can be all of these things, and also be gut-punchingly sad, beautifully written, and oddly hopeful, but it is. Evocative, haunting, and deeply compelling, The Wild Hunt weaves together the known and unknown worlds in pursuit of the answer to the most elusive of life’s questions: how can life go on after devastating loss?
—Amy Brill, author of The Movement of Stars
The Wild Hunt is a gorgeously written, entirely captivating debut novel set on an island off the coast of Scotland in the wake of World War II. Rich in atmosphere and historical detail, this novel and its exquisitely drawn characters will transport even the most reticent reader to a different time and place, and captivate them until it’s satisfying conclusion. A deeply engrossing read.
—Cristina Alger Wang, author of Girls Like Us