“I always wanted to be a writer, but I became a policeman instead.”
WESSEX, 2016. Teenagers are vanishing off the council estates of a small provincial city. A crop of herbs that are said to posses magical powers which only grow once every fifty years are found in the woods. A supernatural creature believed to be the guardian of the herbs is seen in nightmares. Rumours of orgiastic rituals on the estates of the rich and powerful excite the curious. And the Queen of England decides to celebrate her 90th birthday with a visit to the city’s famous cathedral spire.
Into this madness, two ambitious detectives, one with doomed literary ambitions, seek to solve the mystery, their only lead that “posh people are taking our children”.
Blending mysticism, class war, societal malfeasance and transcendence, High John The Conqueror identifies the point in our recent history when the ghosts of our past become the political monsters of the present.
Tariq Goddard was born in London in 1975. He read Philosophy at King’s College London. His first three novels were shortlisted for various awards including Whitbread (Costa) First Novel Award, Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. His fourth and fifth books won the Independent Publishers Gold medal for Horror Writing and Silver medal for Literary Fiction respectively. He lives on a farm in Wiltshire with his wife and children.
“Deranged police procedural meets darkly comic folk horror in Wild Wild Wessex. Utterly mesmerising.”
“A wyrd and eerie tale for wyrd and eerie times, High John the Conqueror is, like High John de Conqueror itself, ‘a genuine hybrid and a one-off,’ crafting & grafting police noir, folk horror and occult parapolitics into an altered States of the Nation novel of monsters past and present. PD James meets MR James!”
“This book is brilliant and crackles with wit, invention and insight.”
“A masterwork of the uncanny. A trip into fresh, bizarre, thrilling new territory. Reading it is almost a hallucinatory experience—it takes daring swerves away from what we call reality, but stays close enough to life to get under your skin. By the end you’ll be altered on a cellular level, questioning what you thought you knew.”
“Here, as in all of Tariq Goddard’s fiction, the ordinary and the uncanny, the mundane and the metaphysical—above all, the sardonic and the profound—merge with one another in some mysterious borderland that he alone seems to have explored. And High John the Conqueror may be his most entertaining novel yet.”
“It’s going to be every outsider’s beach read, a doorway into the future.”
“Enchanting. Goddard here comes into his own as the Gris-Gris man of English fiction.”