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Title: A critical review of four novels: The Lamplighters (2011): The Jack in the Green (2013); The Skintaker (2015); Hearthstone Cottage (2019)
Other Titles: A critical review of four novels
Authors: Lee, Frazer
Advisors: Hubble, N
Cox, J
Keywords: Folk horror;Folkloresque;Creative writing;Horror fiction;PhD by published works
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This critical review will reflect upon the thematic concerns and creative methodologies of four published novels, their plot summaries and themes, and their positioning in the genre publishing landscape. Part One discusses the themes of The Lamplighters (2011) and The Skintaker (2015) in the contexts of myth-making and malice. Part Two explores The Jack in the Green (2013) and Hearthstone Cottage (2019) as folk horror narratives in the context of monstrous feminine characterisations. A published novelist, produced screenwriter and film director, I specialise in the horror and thriller genres. At Brunel I lecture in writing Horror, and Screenwriting in different genres. My work is informed by narrative theorists Robert McKee, Syd Field, Christopher Vogler, and Laurie Hutzler, each of whom promotes the practice of establishing characters and their worlds before developing storylines and structures. The interaction between world building, characterisation and plotting techniques provides the focus of this critical review as follows: All four of the novels feature a fictional corporation, The Consortium Inc., which I created in part to provide an extra-personal dimension of conflict for the characters and communities depicted in each story, and also in which to explore my own political beliefs. The Consortium’s deity, and healthcare professional of choice, is the Skin Mechanic (aka the Skintaker), a homicidal surgical alchemist who possesses the knowledge and power to bestow eternal life upon his followers. Considering Coupe’s (1997) commentary on myth-making, I will reflect on the creation of the Skin Mechanic as an act of myth-making, and his development as a villain across the two novels The Lamplighters and The Skintaker in the context of Flahaut’s (2003) notions of malice. I will also consider the nefarious activities of The Consortium Inc. as nature cult ritual versus corporate greenwashing. With reference to Scovell’s (2017) definitions of the sub-genre, my folk horror positioning of two of the texts The Jack in the Green and Hearthstone Cottage will consider the ‘Folk Horror Chain’ of isolation, landscape, skewed morality, and the summoning or happening. The critical review concludes with a reflection on how the demonised figure of the wise woman, shaman, or witch being wronged by rationalist men is explored in The Jack in the Green and Hearthstone Cottage via Barbara Creed’s (2015) analysis of The Monstrous Feminine.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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