Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

The Cormorant by Stephen Gregory


The Cormorant won the 1986 Somerset Maugham prize. You’ll find it in our fiction section: FIC GREGORY

Last time I had to take my cat, Hugo, to the vet his sudden transformation was astounding. My little buddy went from lap kitty to growling, hissing, feral beast in the examination room. He was a demon. The room was a shambles when it was all over. The vet said she had seen worse, but she didn’t sound like she meant it—her voice trembled and I’m pretty sure her hands trembled too underneath a pair of what looked like welding gloves. The whole upsetting experience immediately reminded me of The Cormorant.

It’s about a young family that inherits a country cottage in Wales. It’s idyllic. They love it. Only thing is, Uncle Ian’s will requested that they not only take charge of his cottage, but his pet cormorant as well.

A cormorant is a sea crow, like a big, black, sharp beaked goose. This one has a name, Archie, but it’s no pet and the couple’s failed attempts to civilize it are not comic, they’re terrifying. Only Harry, their little son, seems to have a real connection with the bird. He’s inordinately amused by its mean streak. The more blood Archie draws, the more destruction he wreaks, the more Harry just giggles and squeals and claps his hands. Archie seems to have an almost trance like hold over the boy that slowly starts to wear away at the family’s bond. Into this already strange plot, author Gregory introduces some subtle supernatural elements. They’re scary, but not as unnerving as the feral violence of the cormorant.

This book is not for the faint of heart, but I think it’s a great read. It’s short, fast-paced, imaginative, and will stick with you for a lifetime—whether you want it to or not. You may never be able to look at your pets quite the same way again. I’m looking at you, Hugo.

Review by Matthew

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2014 by in Book Review, Fiction, Horror.
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