Too Dark to See by Chloë Heuch is a beautifully written coming of age YA novel that perfectly captures the intensity of being a teenager. Themes of grief, first love, sex and resilience are sensitively explored against a forbidding landscape, with characters and nature that are both benevolent and violent. We loved Kay and Siôn’s blossoming relationship, as they help each other find hope after trauma. It is a novel that has all the wildness and passion of a contemporary Wuthering Heights.
Too Dark to See publishes on 2 July. Read a blog post from Chloë about the landscape that influenced her writing.
For me, wild landscapes are a place where life and death are thrown into relief. The Landscape in Too Dark To See is central to the plot. The protagonist, Kay, literally and symbolically has to climb a mountain to gain perspective and see things in a different way.
Landscape has always been important to me. As a child, my artist parents would often whip out sketch books, painting or drawing the views around them, whether we were back home in Derbyshire, or on holiday in Wales. I enjoyed painting and drawing too, and I learnt to see the landscape in a painterly way, that I guess affects the way I write about place.
The natural landscapes in Wales, in Snowdonia, and where I live on the Llŷn Peninsula, dominate everything. You get a real sense of nature’s power and might when walking among the hills and mountains here. It sometimes feels as though the rounded back of a mountain is a slumbering giant or creature half nestled in the earth.
It can feel a bleak or dangerous place when you are high in the hills alone, and weather changes bring rain and mist obscuring your way. Siôn is much more at home in this environment than Kay, and he understands the cycle of life better through his observations. This environment can seem harsh, cruel even, when we see predators attacking prey, or stumble across the remains of a kill.
When alone, such a landscape has a habit of bouncing back your thoughts, like an echo, returning them to you. This can mean if people are low, or unhappy, like Kay, the dominating aspect of nature can scare and intimidate. Even with so much space, you can suffocate on yourself! But when you stop being afraid of all that space, it becomes an amazing place to reconnect with yourself and what matters.
You realise that we share our world with amazing plants and animals and can learn a lot from them. Understanding the natural world is ultimately an uplifting experience, as we feel connected to the planet and more in touch with our own amazing life force: our heart beats, our beautiful breath. It makes you want to live every moment to the full! It was this reason I wanted to set Too Dark to See in a more remote and wild landscape, to give Kay and Siôn this backdrop, for their story. I hope you like it!
Find out more about Chloë at her website: www.chloeheuch.co.uk
‘I was impressed by this beautifully told story of love and survival… Grief, sex, destructive behaviour, resilience and the natural world are all handled with great sensitivity.’ Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller
‘A beautifully written portrayal of teen grief. The characters are very real and draw you in.’ Kelly McFarland, TBHonest
‘An evocative story of a teenage girl coming to terms with loss and finding hope and light in the untamed landscape of her new world, Too Dark To See is stunning. Each page oozes with a purity of raw emotion. … Remarkable, genuine, heartfelt and so very real.’ Fallen Star Stories