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Helen Pendry

The Levels

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One day in winter a military drone on a training flight hurtles out of the sky and smashes into a holiday park. A young mother living in a static caravan is killed instantly.

While all the initial reports suggest a tragic accident, Abby Hughes suspects the crash was a deliberate act of sabotage by a homeless man who made maps and hated war. Determined to find the truth, she has to contend with the powerful forces trying to bury it.

'...this is an assured novel and marks Helen Pendry as an important new literary voice.' Kirsti Bohata, Wales Arts Review

'The Levels is a timely and engaging book about the politicization of the land [...] Do not come here for picturesque panoramas, or tourist board, photoshopped images. This is a place where people live, work and die. The Levels offers a steely-eyed look at the brutal reality of country life which is never that far away or sufficiently remote to not somehow be in thrall to the dictats or desires of Whitehall.' – Jon Gower, Nation.Cymru

 '...an outstanding debut... a novel of real texture and nuance, its feet firmly planted in a mid-Wales landscape that is instantly recognisable and intimately probed. This is an elegant, wise and warm story that stays with you long after finishing it.' Mike Parker

'...with all the tension and plot twists and turns that you would expect from a gripping crime novel, makes an unsettling, compelling read.' Morning Star

‘A moving and angry quest for a kind of justice in an unstable world, The Levels de-romanticises and politicises its beautifully and harshly drawn mid-Wales communities and landscapes. As the local and the international tangle and snag, trust in institutions and between individuals shifts and splinters. Helen Pendry looks our unequal society full in the face, but threads her compelling story with the filaments of fragile hope.’ Mary-Ann Constantine

'Helen Pendry’s astonishingly assured first novel, The Levels, ends with a plan to retrieve not so much national identity – though that plays a significant part in her narrative - as political parity with those whose shady military affairs ride roughshod over local concerns.' The Yorkshire Times


author photo


Helen Pendry has worked in higher education, research and editing. She has also worked in a zoo, a hostel, a bookshop and the European Parliament. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Planet Magazine, New Welsh Review and Wales Arts Review, and she has been the recipient of a Literature Wales Bursary Award. She lives in Machynlleth.