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T. Williams (Mariposa, California United States)
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The Bones of Avalon
The Bones of Avalon
by Phil Rickman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.12

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's meat on these Bones ..., 29 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Bones of Avalon (Hardcover)
As a longtime reader of Phil Rickman who was hungry for my annual fix of Merrily Watkins, I must say I approached this offering of historical fiction with some hesitation. I've never quite acquired a taste for the genre, but I have to confess that this was one tasty read, a perfect blend of historical and crime fiction.

As other readers have commented, Rickman serves up a story carved from an wonderful slice of Elizabethan life. He certainly did his research, which must have been exhaustive. As with his other books, it's the characters who once again bring the tale to life. The perspective is a departure from his other books in that the main character, John Dee, is also the narrator, which allows a more immediate intimacy for the reader, or for this reader at least. I also enjoyed seeing the other characters -- both historical and fictional -- through Dee's eyes, my favorite being the one-eyed hag, Joan Tyrre, who often sees what others can't. There's also a surprise -- but crucial -- cameo by a famous Frenchman!

Rickman fans will not be disappointed in this book. The only disappointment as far as Rickman is concerned is that he can't magically clone himself and simultaneously turn out sequels to this latest book, the Merrily Watkins series, the Will Kingdom books and Thom Madley's Marco series.


The Fabric of Sin (Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
The Fabric of Sin (Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
by Phil Rickman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This "Fabric" is well-woven indeed, 2 Dec 2007
As an inveterate Rickman fan, I was once again and still delighted by this new offering in the series of Merrily mysteries. Not only does Rickman seamlessly stitch a dazzling variety of historical (the Knights Templar, the Prince of Wales), cultural (Nick Drake, M.R. James) and political (police and church surveillance) threads into his "Fabric", but he brings his readers back to that intimate viewpoint into the lives of those characters who, to many of us, have become most real. In her latest assignment from the Bishop, Deliverance Minister Merrily Watkins finds herself and daughter, Jane, steeped in the sins of the past -- both recent and ancient -- with the two of them ultimately covering up a murder!

I have come to expect well written and researched stories from Phil Rickman, but this one truly amazes. Once you pick it up, you'll be hard-pressed to put it down until you finish the last page. For a real treat this holiday season, wrap yourselves in this richly-woven "Fabric."


Marco and the Blade of Night
Marco and the Blade of Night
by Thom Madley
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Switched blade?, 17 July 2007
Can it be true? Has the legendary sword of the legendary King Arthur been found in Glastonbury, the once -- and future -- Isle of Avalon? Or is young Rosa's discovery something much darker ... and perhaps even more sought after by a dangerous handful of legend hunters? Whatever this discovery is, it is turning life in Glastonbury upside down for a number of folks, including Marco and his grandparents, Woolly and Nancy. Meanwhile, back in London, Josh Goldman, Marco's best friend (and psychotherapist), comes to the realization that he must somehow get to Glastonbury to save Marco from his grandparents ... and from himself.

What ensues is another great read by Thom Madley, continuing right where Marco's Pendulum left off, and left readers wishing for more. Well guess what? Our wish has been granted ...


The Remains of an Altar (Merrily Watkins Mystery)
The Remains of an Altar (Merrily Watkins Mystery)
by Phil Rickman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greed and a ghost, 4 Nov 2006
To echo previous reviewers, Rickman rocks, delivering yet another wickedly well-woven tale. It all starts off with Merrily Watkins, diocesan "Deliverance Consultant," being called in to assist the Vicar of Wychehill, whose parishioners seem to be experiencing a deadly string of car wrecks, each apparently preceded by the ghostly apparition of a famous former resident. Soon after, a ritualistic murder occurs and tensions really start to mount.

While Merrily is off investigating local supernatural activity, seventeen-year-old daughter Jane turns activist, inadvertantly involving herself as well as her boyfriend, Eirion, Merrily's lover Lol Robinson and loyal family friend Gomer Parry, in local politics as she tries to prevent the desecration of Ledwardine's "holy hill" by a more mundane brand of malevolence -- crooked councillors and greedy developers.

Phil Rickman populates his latest offering with rich characters brought vividly to life (and death!) as only he can. Rickman also has one of the best ears for dialect and deftly uses that talent yet again. Without giving too much away, this book truly has a tasty piece of narrative candy for everyone to sink his or her teeth into.

If you're already a fan, your wait for the next Rickman story won't have been in vain. If you've yet to discover Merrily Watkins and the world of Ledwardine, you're in for a treat.


The Smile of a Ghost (Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
The Smile of a Ghost (Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
by Phil Rickman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.29

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The smile of a reader, 17 Nov 2005
In this the seventh of his Merrily Watkins novels, Phil Rickman once again proves that you really can't get too much of a good thing. While The Smile of a Ghost does not find the Rev. Merrily Watkins in such dire or dark supernatural peril she has contended with previously, the demons she must face are just as chilling -- the possible elimination of her very role as Deliverance Minister by modernizing forces in the Church as well as her own self-doubt. And this crisis couldn't have come at a worse time -- in the midst of a tragic trend of teen suicides, possibly influenced by a 12th century ghost and a very hauntingly real "ghost" of sorts from Merrily's Goth days of the more recent past.
In spite of this novel's thematic seriousness, Rickman manages to weave subtle strands of wit and humor throughout, and his astounding facility with character and dialogue only gets better with each book. Through his superb crafting of narrative perspective, the personalities of Rickman's characters' seem to hijack their way from chapter to chapter with an amazing fluidity that makes the book very hard to put down.
If you're a regular reader of Rickman's novels, this newest one will not disappoint. If you're new to the novels of Phil Rickman, you're in for a treat. Either way, The Smile of a Ghost will leave a reader smiling.


The Cure of Souls (A Revd Merrily Watkins mystery)
The Cure of Souls (A Revd Merrily Watkins mystery)
by Phil Rickman
Edition: Hardcover

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ties that 'bine', 4 Dec 2001
The Cure of Souls, Rickman's fourth novel featuring the Revd. Merrily Watkins, finds her settled, more or less, into her role as Diocesan Deliverance Minister. But in spite of her growing experience, the job seems only to grow more difficult. This time, the lines between good and evil blur, leaving Merrily uncertain how-or who-to free from spiritual bondage.
The diseased crops of the Frome Valley are a good metaphor for the psychic condition of those now living there. Something is sucking the life out of not only the land but of the people. That what remains of a once flourishing valley draped in hop bines is a rural wasteland-scape is painfully evident to Lol Robinson, who is about to re-enter Merrily's life after going off to take courses in psychotherapy. Led by 'Prof' Levin to the legendary luthier, Al Boswell, Lol learns not only about the region's gypsy heritage but that the romany ways still pervade the lives of those who live ... and die ... in the Frome Valley. And from this culture comes a psychic adversary as mysterious as the romany themselves.
Lol's close encounter with the legendary "Lady of the bines" leads him to the vicarage of the Reverend Simon St. John and his wife, the intriguing Isabel. Simon's refusal to exorcise the house, a converted hop kiln, of a local "entrepreneur," places the task in Merrily's hands. Soon Merrily, Lol and Simon realize that it will take all three of them, and more, to deliver this town from what plagues it. In perfect contrast to the wilt and waste of the main setting is the continued flourishing of Merrily's "flower," her indomitable daughter Jane. Rickman's secondary story, that of Jane's growth into young womanhood and her and her own spiritual and psychic quest, provides a wonderful parallel to the main storyline. And in a way that he does probably better than any other writer in the business, Rickman deftly weaves this sub-story into the main textual fabric, adding to the narrative tension and the intrigue of his tale.
Phil Rickman's The Cure of Souls is a sophisticated blend--part ghost story, part detective story, part myth--and totally gripping. His unerring ability to bring each character fully alive on the page and make every scene in which he places them believable will not disappoint. This book is just 'The Cure' for a cold winter's night!


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