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About the book
  • Published: 15 March 2008
  • ISBN: 9780099479543
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $19.99

The Devil's Footprints

A breathtaking novel by the author of A Lie About My Father

Once, on a winter's night many years ago, after a heavy snow, the devil passed through the Scottish fishing town of Coldhaven, leaving a trail of dark hoofprints across the streets and roofs of the sleeping town.
Michael Gardiner has lived in Coldhaven all his life, but still feels like an outsider, a blow-in. Now living in self-imposed exile out on the point, Michael feels at one with the sea-birds and the changing light of this ancient landscape – yet more distant than ever from the dark, closed community of the villagers. But that is about to change.

  • Pub date: 15 March 2008
  • ISBN: 9780099479543
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

John Burnside

John Burnside is amongst the most acclaimed writers of his generation. His novels, short stories, poetry and memoirs have won numerous awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Encore Award and the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year. In 2011 he became only the second person to win both the Forward and T. S. Eliot Prizes for poetry for the same book, Black Cat Bone. In 2015 he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. He is a Professor in the School of English at St Andrews University.

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Praise for The Devil's Footprints

“Burnside does darkness in prose the way Leonardo did enigmatic smiles.. The Devil's Footsteps is convincing, occasionally disturbing and ultimately comforting”

Hugh MacDonald, Herald

“A spare, bewitching, beautifully written book... Burnside nimbly delineates the border where the actual and illusory meet: on both sides he finds dark, flinty human truths”

Tom Gatti, The Times

“The Devil's Footprints is a classic tale with an old-fashioned, gripping plot. But it is also helplessly good at the things that Burnside loves best: geography, the neighbours, the way people's lives go, and the way people's other, secret lives turn out”

Anne Enright, Guardian

“Both this novel and Gift Songs are superb achievements. To be both a poet and a novelist is highly unusual. To write so outstandingly well in both genres is a rarity indeed”

Melissa McClements, Financial Times

“His is a devouring eloquence, unfazed by generic difference and widely admired... what happens on almost every page is absorbing... It can be said of John Burnside's novel what was said by this journal at their outset: that they are the work of an "extraordinarily good writer"”

Karl Miller, TLS

“works in which propitiation, unexpected epiphanies and reconciliation are as thrilling, haunting and provocative as violence and horror”

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

“Burnside's dark lyricism gives the ordinary surfaces of life a sinister geometry and his startling images cling to the imagination”

Sunday Times

“Part of the charm of [Burnside's] writing comes from its appeal to people's longing, in this atheistical age, for the miraculous, for grace, for forgiveness... Burnside has a new collection of poems, Gift Songs, which echoes St Augustine and T S Eliot. It works well alongside the novel, exploring how a writer puts experience into language, how language paradoxically shapes experience, how a poet must strive to express the seemingly unsayable”


“Burnside is a writer of great skill and subtlety... As befits a poet of Burnside's considerable reputation, both the inner and outer landscapes are beautifully realised and the novel has the resonant simplicity of the folklore from which it is drawn”

Nicholas Foxton, Time Out

“Undeniably entertaining throughout”

Matt Thorne, Sunday Telegraph

“[An] engaging and well-written novel, which reads almost as a piece of folklore”

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