The Golden Tup: A Red Grouse Tale by Leslie W P Garland


Score: 4/5

Genre: Fantasy


The Golden Tup: A dreadful tale of a young couple’s paradise being cruelly taken from them by latent evil.

“But whom sent I to judge them?”

Can evil be in a place? The tale opens with Verity, a farmer’s wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart – how, with references to Milton’s Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?


The Golden Tup is god-fearing rural town story told from a bystander’s point of view; that is to say—someone who is not directly tied to the situation but is still a good friend of the couple in question. This is the most important point because the entire narrative is presented as hindsight by the ‘town expert on this matter.’

There’s a large mix of religion connotations, small town gossip, and yarn spinning. The plot is just real enough to make a stomach sink and wonder ‘what if?’

Mild spoilers ahead, a city couple moves out then buys a rundown farm, they fix it up and notice a few odd things—namely a spooky tree, ram’s head carved into an old barn, and area of the property that even chickens won’t go to. As they buy their first sheep and consider chopping down the large creepy tree—a man they instinctually call Gabriel arrives to offer advice. Of course, our story teller—a friend of the family—gets all this explained to him by the spouse.

Now as many small-town stories go, this one leaves a lot of questions unanswered but instead relies heavily on ‘implied truth.’ This reminded of my own life in a smaller town; people often commented about gossip but left the ‘obvious implications’ unsaid.  It’s worth noting—repeatedly because the narration style can be disconnecting—that all these events are covered in hindsight by a story teller. Readers are told how it ends in the first few lines.

Still, I kept reading to uncover the ‘why’ mystery and see how the plot points connected. Those uncomfortable with any hint of religion, demons, or implied rebirths of whichever fallen angel they believe in should shy away. In my case, for making my stomach drop and face pale briefly, this story gets a four.


Available on Amazon

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Want to know more about Leslie and The Golden Tup? Check out the website here!

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