Treacle Walker – Alan Garner

Published By: 4th Estate
Pages: 160
Released On: 04/08/2022

‘Ragbone! Ragbone! Any rags! Pots for rags! Donkey stone!’ 

Joe looked up from his comic and lifted his eye patch. There was a white pony in the yard. It was harnessed to a cart, a flat cart, with a wooden chest on it. A man was sitting at a front corner of the cart, holding the reins. His face was creased. He wore a long coat and a floppy high-crowned hat, with hair straggling beneath, and a leather bag was slung from his shoulder across his hip.

Joe Coppock squints at the world with his lazy eye. He reads his comics, collects birds’ eggs and treasures his marbles, particularly his prized dobbers. When Treacle Walker appears off the Cheshire moor one day – a wanderer, a healer – an unlikely friendship is forged and the young boy is introduced to a world he could never have imagined.


I’m starting to think that award-winning “books of the year” just aren’t for me.

This book had me so confused. At 160 pages, I decided to give it a go as it meant a quick read. And the fact that the author is a man in his eighties, for some reason, I found to be a good point and really wanted him to win me over.

Now. Onto the book itself.

The format, the way of writing, syntax, sentence forming…it’s all very bizarre and not easy to follow or understand.

There is very little plot. Unless there’s a deeper plot that I just can’t get to grips with. It floats around, is very ambiguous, never here nor there and nothing for you to really get to grips with. At no point was I able to tell anyone what the actual story was about.

He skimps on the important factors of the book – you know, such as the plot and characterisation – and yet dedicates several pages to describing the ins and outs of a comic strip, which makes for dull reading at times.

I see no “genius” in this book I’m afraid. In his attempt to be sparse and simple, he’s made a story that never settles on anything and is confusing and difficult and unfriendly to read.

I can’t tell you if it’s meant to be a comedy, a children’s book, an adult’s book, a thriller, a fantasy, a sci-fi, if it’s allegorical or biographical,,,it was all over the place.

It’s so nonsensical that I can’t make head nor tale of it and I can’t begin to think how he wrote it because there’s seemingly nothing to work with. At first I did think there was a hint of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky about it but it’s nowhere near as refined or well written.

I know we all have our own opinions on books, some we love, some we hate, some we like and some we tolerate. But when you read a book that was nominated for the biggest book prize in the country, and everyone is saying how genius and riveting and the greatest big he’s ever written….well you expect to find that. And I didn’t. I don’t want to be wholly negative but I can’t really find anything positive. It just wasn’t accessible to me.

If I’m honest, I understood less of it by the time I had finished than whilst I was reading it. And I understood very little whilst reading it.

Overall I have to admit, I just didn’t get it. Not one bit of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: