By the time Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer adapted their script of the cult horror movie The Wicker Man into a novel (Tom Doherty Associates, 2014), the movie already had become a classic and had been remade, albeit to little acclaim compared to the original1973 version. The novel does bring back the aura of cultist mystery while actually enhancing the story.
The novel remains fairly loyal to the movie script – in setting, dialogue, and plot. Yet some important differences appear in a few chapters, and for the better, enrichening the novel with meaning and myth. The latter is true particularly of the story’s ending where Sergeant Neil Howie’s misadventure can be reevaluated for the one last good thing he does in order to make his visit to Summerisle somewhat productive – pun intended given the end of Howie’s trip and it relates to the island’s efforts for a good harvest.
The Wicker Man was eerily ahead of its time in that some of Howie’s shocking observations as unique to the island’s pagan community can now be seen pushed around and argued as acceptable in many developed parts of the world. The entire story essentially revolves around the Christian faith under assault, which remains a powerful theme in today’s world, in fact more so today than ever before.
Readers can easily see the novel as more of a visual experience, going scene-by-scene, particularly those who are familiar with the classic movie.
For those who still have to see the movie, it’s probably a good choice to read the book after watching the movie. For the fans of the movie, the book comes as an opportunity to relive the memories and discover the “missing” scenes that add to the characters and mix new shades into the haunting memories of this cult horror classic.