Somewhere on a salt-and-shingle island, inside a ruined concrete structure known as The Green Chapel, a figure called The Armourer is leading a ritual with terrible intent.
But something is coming to stop him.
Five more-than-human forms are traversing land, sea and time towards The Green Chapel, moving to the point where they will converge and become Ness. Ness has lichen skin and willow-bones. Ness is made of tidal drift, green moss and deep time. Ness has hagstones for eyes and speaks only in birds. And Ness has come to take this island back.
What happens when land comes to life? What would it take for land to need to come to life? Using word and image, Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood have together made a minor modern myth. Part-novella, part-prose-poem, part-mystery play, in Ness their skills combine to dazzling, troubling effect.
Robert Macfarlane is the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Landmarks, and The Lost Words, co-created with Jackie Morris. Mountains of the Mind won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award and The Wild Places won the Boardman-Tasker Award. Both books have been adapted for television by the BBC. The Lost Words won the Books Are My Bag Beautiful Book Award and the Hay Festival Book of the Year. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and writes on environmentalism, literature and travel for publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Times and The New York Times.
Stanley Donwood is a graphic designer, artist and writer. He has worked with the British band Radiohead since 1994, producing the artwork for all their albums and promotional materials. He is also the author of numerous books including Catacombs of Terror!, Slowly Downward and Small Thoughts. His collaboration with Robert Macfarlane, Ness, was published in November 2019.
"Ness goes beyond what we expect books to do. Beyond poetry, beyond the word, beyond the bomb – it is an aftertime song. It is dark, ever so dark, nimble and lethal. It is a triumphant libretto of mythic modernism for our poisoned age. Ness is something else, and feels like it always has been."
– Max Porter