Listen to a sample

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Eerie, unsettling and hauntingly beautiful – a new collaboration from the bestselling creators of Holloway, Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood.
A unique audiobook experience, narrated by Stephen Dillane, set to a bespoke score by composer, Hugh Brunt. Recorded and produced at Abbey Road Studios, London.

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 words, the pair 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 The Lost Words with Jackie Morris, The Old Ways and Underland. Stanley Donwood is an artist and the author of Slowly Downward, Household Worms and Bad Island.

‘Ness goes beyond what we expect books to do. Beyond poetry, beyond the word, beyond the bomb — it is an aftertime song’ Max Porter, Booker-longlisted author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers

Score by Hugh Brunt
Co-produced by Hugh Brunt and Jake Miller
Engineered and mixed by Jake Miller
Field recordist: Peter Eason
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios
Soprano: Josephine Stephenson
Assistant engineer: George Oulton
Mastered by Alex Wharton at Abbey Road Studios

© Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood 2019 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Critics Review

  • 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

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to get tailored content recommendations, product updates and info on new releases. Your data is your own: we commit to protect your data and respect your privacy.