Once, in Kilburn, married to the sugar-lipped Catherine and sharing his daughter Immy's passion for the enchanted kingdom of winterwood, Redmond Hatch was happy. But then infidelity, betrayal and the 'scary things' from which he would protect his daughter steal into the magic kingdom, and bad things begin to happen. Now Redmond - once little Red - prowls the barren outlands alone, haunted by the disgraced shade of Ned Strange, a fiddler and teller of tales from his home in the mountainy middle of Ireland.
Freelance writer Redmond Hatch loves his young wife, Catherine he is 40 and she is 22 when they wed in 1981 and adores his infant daughter, Imogen, but in Irish author McCabe's eighth novel (his prior work included Breakfast on Pluto and The Butcher Boy, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize), Redmond's happy slice of the world cruelly crumbles. A few years into wedded bliss, Redmond's wife cuckolds and then divorces him; he feigns suicide, assumes a false identity and disappears into a sad-sack life that spirals sharply downward after he reads a newspaper account of the suicide of convicted child murderer (and creepy acquaintance) Ned Strange: Redmond's suddenly haunted by nightmares and hallucinations in which Ned molests him. He stalks his former family and, in 1991, kidnaps and kills his estranged daughter, burying her in the isolated countryside their imaginary "winterwood" and visiting her grave over the next decade. Redmond, however, has yet to bottom out. Despite a fractured, hard-to-follow chronology, this tale about a man's descent into madness is both artfully repellent and hypnotically compelling.