The History of a Word 02/07/20
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Hearn’s novel is a fantasy which combines Greek myth, eighteenth-century Cornish wrecking history, teenage relationships and a vision of post-disaster life in 2028.
Port Zannon has become an isolated, deprived community since ‘The Attack’ on London fifteen years previously which Hearn hints may have been Muslim terrorism.
Five teenagers discover a mysterious creature hidden in a deserted house, which Gurnet keeps as a pet, but which spreads hopelessness among the community.
Hearn intersperses her narrative with short passages relating the arrival and immolation of the creature in the eighteenth-century, and reflections around the Pandora myth. Each teenager relates their own perception of events, which highlights Gurnet’s situation, as a boy with considerable learning difficulties, enormous emotional needs, and supportive friends.