Ramblers, lugger-buggers, sods—Sam Marsdyke’s mind doesn’t only employ a language of its own; it constitutes its own world. And that world is not always a safe place.
A lonely young man dogged by an incident in his past, Marsdyke works on the family farm instead of attending school in his Yorkshire village. He keeps to himself as he goes about his daily routines, isolated from the “blatherskites,” his term for the townspeople. But from the moment he lays eyes on Josephine, his new neighbour from London, this careful seclusion starts to crumble. What begins as a friendship between an outsider and a rebellious but naive teenage girl takes an unsettling turn, and as the pair sets out on the run, Sam’s imagination is revealed to be capable of much more than innocent games.
At once harrowing, funny and poignant, Out Backward traces a journey not just across the untamed beauty of the Yorkshire Moors but into the mind of Sam Marsdyke—a character who lingers long after the novel’s final arresting page.
Delton was the worst. That crick of the kitchen curtain each time I passed by their farm at the bottom of the track, on my way to town, she was spying out and brewing her gossip. Never mind we were in as bad shape as them with money, and we should’ve stuck together, she’d never been warm on us. Specially me. So I knew she was out for me now, the blatherskite, brooding round the hillside with her cats whipping round her ankles. Just ripe for an introduction to these towns. And the second she spies her chance—That Sam Marsdyke, let me tell you what he does to young girls like you.
Sod that. I’d let them know I wasn’t so foul-smelling as Delton had me for. I’d meet them in flesh first, before they met my shadow.
—From Out Backward