Wreaking – James Scudamore

Wreaking – James Scudamore

Wreaking is a stunning novel of madness and decay.  Ostensibly this is the story of three people connected by  a mental hospital called Wreaking on the South East coast of England. Cleo moves into Wreaking with her father when he buys the decommissioned hospital, with dreams of renovation. Soon she meets  Roland and Oliver, two more teenagers with less than conventional parents.  However an incident in which Cleo loses an eye destroys all the relationships and fractures the futures of each protagonist. 

Beyond the story of the individuals though is the story of the hospital itself, how it’s tyranny affected some and its rot affected other, over the decades its decay reaches out and destroys and twist all those still connected to it. As a study into madness this book is gripping. There are times when you wonder if everyone in the book is mentally ill but you start to realise that the behaviour of some characters is purely environmental. In a different upbringing, with different parents, life could have been very different for the children involved.

As good as the story is the writing is better. ““And in spite of all my best efforts, the grounds are still dotted with incongruous objects: walking frames, bathing chairs, a shoe or two (but never in pairs). The hospital contents have seeped outside as if in pursuits of the patients.” This is the third book from Scudamore and is worthy of as much praise as can be thrown at it.
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