A Black Fox Running is not the type of book I would normally pick up for myself, so I’m glad that this was bought for me as it’s a really beautiful book in so many ways.
Kind of a more grown up Watership Down but for foxes, Wulfgar is the titular black wolf whose trials and tribulations we follow. Set on Dartmoor and bringing in the voices of the other animals as well as the humans who inhabit the moor, it’s a great example of fantastic nature writing. Carter brings just the right amount of anthopomorphism to his tale while still having nature remain red in tooth and claw – this is a world where everyone eats or is eaten, which also ups the stakes for the reader as we follow Wulfgar and the Hill Tor Clan as they try to evade the Hunt (although this is thought of as The Good Death by the foxes) or the much more horrific attentions of the trapper Scoble and his mad lurcher Jacko (theirs is The Bad Death, with cubs and vixens mauled in their setts or wire traps and poisons laid waiting to ensnare them). Here’s where the Watershed Down comparison is even more apt, as said work is legendary in my family for the spectacular emotional breakdown it caused when they sat little me down to watch the film for the first time. There are certain points within A Black Fox Running where grown up me didn’t fare much better.
I grew up on the edge of Dartmoor so reading about a land so familiar to me in the hands of such a good nature writer was a real treat, and while I’m completely unspiritual myself I also rather enjoyed the foxes philosophy and the character of their bardic elder Stargrief. But my real favourites were the posturing wideboy ferrets who’d I’d be more than happy to read a book on themselves.
I may have to dip my toe into this genre a little more often in future.