The Wild Hunt
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, residents of a small Scottish island greet October as they do every year - with bonfires, rituals, and charms to guard against the sluagh; creatures who look like crows, but who carry the spirits of the restless dead. A beautiful novel about the toxicity of silence, about compassion, and about living with our ghosts.
Moody and atmospheric, the islanders are forced to confront tradition, ancient superstition, and the secrets submerged to preserve their normalcy. A taut tale full of otherworldly activities and the tension of daily existence.
Emma Seckel deftly uses myth and legend to explore grief and the aftermath of war. The Wild Hunt is haunting and wonderfully atmospheric; I could smell the misty Scottish shore while reading. A novel that lingers long after the last page.
A BuzzFeed, LitHub, Tor, and Library Journal Best Book of Summer
An NPR, CrimeReads, and Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2022
Longlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
"An eerie, melodic debut." —The New York Times Book Review
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.
Praise for The Wild Hunt
An eerie, melodic debut.
— The New York Times Book Review
— The Star Tribune
Haunting. . . . asking questions about homecoming, perception, communal grief, memory—and hope.
— NPR Books
A moving historical novel haunted by folklore and reality alike, best enjoyed during the slow slide from summer into fall.
— Lit Hub
Somehow both dreamy and nightmarish, speculative and concretely real, The Wild Hunt is a richly emotional tale about home, community, love and self.
A story world drawn with exquisite care. . . . thoroughly compelling.
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.
— Molly Odintz - Crime Reads
Stirring and atmospheric. . . . Seckel draws a dense portrait of a community in turmoil and Leigh’s determination to find a way forward. The result is a moving story exploring home, loss, and grief, and it is an irresistible read.
— Necessary Fiction
Intoxicating and atmospheric. . . . This moody meditation delivers.
— Publishers Weekly
Treading deftly into the worlds of folklore and magical realism, Seckel keenly captures a tone that echoes the eerie moor scenery of the island: hazy, haunting, and teeming with misgivings. A foreboding mystery with surprising glimmers of hope.
— Kirkus Reviews
Promising premise, beautiful writing.
— Library Journal
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.
— Shelf Awareness
A Gothic autumnal immersion.
— The Daily Kos
Seckel’s writing is vivid and transports the reader to the moors and rocky cliffs with crows swarming overhead. . . . A haunting mythology and an exploration of human emotion.
— Southern Review of Books
Moody, atmospheric. . . . Seckel deftly weaves Celtic legend into the story so seamlessly it feels like real life.
— The Best of Times
Unusual and imaginative. . . . a well-written romance intertwined with fantastical elements of a legend not widely known.
Perfect for a hint of Halloween.
Lyrical and tender.
— Historical Novel Society
Extraordinary. . . . Stunning. . . . Powerful and gorgeously executed, author Emma Seckel has crafted a compelling title that occurs in another time, but is more fitting than most for the troubled world we are living in today.
— Locus Magazine
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