The year is 1864. A young man is sent home from school facing possible expulsion to spend the holidays with his newly impoverished mother and sister in the south of England. While he is wrestling with his own demons, he at first barely notices the secrets the rest of his family is keeping. Then hostile letters and acts of mutilation against animals in the area begin, and as the lead suspect he is forced to pay attention.
This is a fantastic, dark, disturbing work, full of addiction, sexual frustration, secrets, and violence. I kept finding myself thinking of The Skull and the Nightingale from earlier this year. Although Rustication is set in a small coastal community among a poorer class than SatN's London life with occasional trips to country estates, there is a similar combination of sex, violence, and psychology interplaying in societal balances of power. I highly recommend it to fans of dark historical fiction and psychological suspense.
Overall Grade: A