by Daniel Mills
Publication Date: 16th February, 2011
Paperback, 292 pages, 8.0 x 5.25 x 0.7 inches
The year is 1689. Situated on the northern boundary of the Massachusetts Bay colony, the town of Cold Marsh is a place of secrets, a village characterized by repression and guilt. Fourteen years have passed since the outbreak of King Philip’s War. During that summer, the men of Cold Marsh surrounded and destroyed a nearby Native American encampment, massacring the inhabitants. Now darkness has come to the village. Two of the town’s young women have vanished under mysterious circumstances, and the country seethes with rumors of witchcraft and devilry. Even their God has abandoned them. When a third young woman disappears, the men of the village determine to leave the safety of the village and enter the other world of the woods in search of her, each man haunted by the Jack o’ lanthorn of his own unspeakable secrets.
Revenants is a lyrical evocation of the colonial landscape, a poetic meditation on the hills and wilds of that vanished country. It also brings back to life, with breathing intimacy, the inner landscape of sombre repression known to the settlers of New England. In the words of H.P. Lovecraft: “Divorced from the enlightenment of civilization, the strength of these Puritans turned into singular channels; and in their isolation, morbid self-repression, and struggle for life with relentless Nature, there came to them dark furtive traits from the prehistoric depths of their cold Northern heritage… Erring as all mortals must, they were forced by their rigid code to seek concealment above all else; so that they came to use less and less taste in what they concealed.”
About The Author
Daniel Mills is a young writer and resident of New England. Raised in rural Vermont, he grew up immersed in the history and culture of the Northeast, visiting Colonial-era sites and attending Revolutionary War reenactments at what was, in hindsight, an altogether too impressionable age. He pursued his undergraduate education at the University of Vermont, graduating magna cum laude in 2007 with a degree in Environmental Studies. His fiction strives to inhabit the gray area between beauty and dread, where the horrific meets the sublime. Notable influences include Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath as well as the ecology and natural history of the New England landscape. His fiction has recently appeared in Shadeworks, Willard and Maple, and Strange Tales III from Tartarus Press. His contribution to the latter, entitled ‘Sanctuary Run’, was long-listed for the 2010 British Fantasy Award.
What People Say
“Readers [of Revenants] are swept into the towering forests of colonial New England right along with the settlers as Mills calls up both the majesty of stately oaks and chestnuts and mist-laden scenes of terrified Native American women and children who were slaughtered where they stood. Otherworldly fiction from a promising new talent.”
Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
“Daniel Mills is an exciting emerging talent in the field of strange literature.”
Rosalie Parker, Tartarus Press
“Mills exhibits the evocative prose of an extremely gifted writer and the firm narrative style of an accomplished, mature author. It’s hard to believe he’s a novice in the field.”
Mario Guslandi, reviewer
“This beautiful debut novel, Revenants, comes as naturally as the leaves to a tree, a historical tale written with perfect appropriateness in the present tense. For, although the novel is set in the 17th Century, I have rarely read prose that is so present in its atmosphere. The reader is standing alone in a great wood, hearing the whispers of leaf, wind and water, and realising something of the wood’s deep strangeness as these whispers play in a frisson on the edges of the nervous system. But the forest is not only that of nature; it is that of human society, also. The whispers we hear in this novel remind us that the past is always with us, and that its revenants are forever brushing against our world, making us tingle with the recognition of things we had long forgotten.”