Book Review: The Haar by David Sodergren

the haar

Title: The Haar

Author: David Sodergren

Release date: May 20th, 2022

By this point, if you’ve read any of my work, you’ll be aware that David Sodergren has been pivotal in my progression as a writer. Since my collection ‘Left Hand Path: 13 more tales of black magick’ was eviscerated by some reviewers due to horrendous editing, Sodergren has been by my side guiding my writing, editing and copy/line-editing my work. So, it should be no surprise that I’m always excited to read what David conjures, knowing how phenomenal of a job he does taking my Playdough manuscript and turning it into a Marble work of art (lol).

Do I think David’s work is grossly overlooked? Absolutely. Look at his body of work thus far; ‘The Forgotten Island,’ ‘Night Shoot,’ ‘Dead Girl Blues,’ Maggie’s Grave,’ The Perfect Victim,’ and ‘Satan’s Burnouts Must Die!’ I would call all of these Indie Horror Masterpieces. Sodergren fully embraces the DIY Self-Publishing model and the level/caliber of books he’s given us are second to none. And I’m not going to include our co-written novel ‘The Navajo Nightmare’ as I think that would be too biased, but I will say, his opening salvo that makes up the story is simply one of the best Splatter-Western stories released in that genre over the last few years.

Which brings us to ‘The Haar.’ Maybe a year ago? eight months ago? I can’t fully recall, but at some point we were discussing what each of us was working on and what releases we had coming down the pipeline and he discussed this one. He’ll correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe back then it was being referred to as ‘Witchaven’ and he jokingly called it his monster-romance novel. He wasn’t far off. And don’t get that phrase stuck in your brain and not take a chance because I used the dreaded ‘R’ word. No, instead, Sodergren does what he does best and gives us a stunning character piece layered below a horrific plotline.

What I liked: The story follows 80+ year old, Muriel McAuley, life long resident of the Scottish fishing town Witchaven. This was where she was born and raised, met and married her husband and continued to live when, years ago, his fishing boat was found, but no signs of Billy were ever found. Now, a billionaire American is buying up all of the land and houses, building a massive golf course and resort, but some residents are holding their ground and refusing to sell. Muriel being one of them.

The story itself follows Muriel as she struggles to comprehend how this place she loves with all of her heart is being ripped away from her. She doesn’t have many years left and just wants to enjoy them in the home she’s lived in for decades.

But, if you look at that synopsis closely, you’ll see Sodergren says this is a gore-soaked folk horror fairy tale, and that’s just what we get. We get a looming fog, the haar, that sweeps in one day and brings something from the ocean. Muriel saves it, connects with it and gets to experience some of life’s moments again. Things and memories she thought long since buried, returning and reinvigorating her.

With Muriel, Sodergren has really created a truly memorable character. From the words shared in the afterword, we see the why and how, but even without that piece of backstory, you’ll fall for her and want to root for her no matter the odds.

Now, I haven’t forgotten about that ‘gore-soaked’ aspect either. Expect the brutality and bloodbath that David is known for. Think ‘Maggie’s Grave’ and you’ll have an idea, and while this one doesn’t have as much as most of his books, it works perfectly to highlight the horrors and events Muriel is living through.

The ending was perfect and the varying POV’s we get to see some of those last moments through was fantastic to really highlight the emotional aspect of this book.

What I didn’t like: The main bad guy and his son, aka The Grant’s, I think were a little underutilized in the sense that I felt they loomed but their dirty work seemed too detached. It’s hard to really say everything and remain spoiler free, so I think once you’ve given this one a go, you’ll understand.

Why you should buy this: Sodergren is the rare combo of TBR-buster and book slump-buster. You always know that even a 300 page book of his will feel like a single sitting because you’ll be so entrenched in the world and his writing flows so beautifully, that you don’t realize how long you’ve been reading.

Muriel really is the best character he’s created yet and the relationship and tenderness we get to see and experience was second to none. I’ll be raving about this book until his next one comes out, but this shows why Sodergren is so good and hopefully now, he’ll stop being overlooked.


6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Haar by David Sodergren

  1. Thanks for sharing your review. Sodergren’s been on my TBR for a while, and this mention just bumped him up quite a lot. Think I’ll start with this one. Thanks again for the recommendation!


      1. Actually, The Forgotten Island is the first book of his I discovered from a friend here on WordPress. Definitely have to give both works a try when I can beat down the clutter on this cursed TBR!


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