13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
raising spirits, 22 Mar. 2007
'The Remains of an Altar'?
A typically compulsive, eagerly- anticipated addition to the Merrily Watkins series. There are few authors who snare me as Phil Rickman has, and with each new volume these past several years I have willingly immersed myself in the parallel world of Ledwardine and its Deliverance Consultant.
There's so much that makes these stories distinctive, and it strikes me they gain power from underlying juxtapositions - the woman of God in a male-dominated Church - issues of spirituality in an increasingly secular society - strange characters within small, compressed communities clashing with those even stranger denizens from the teetering society of nearby town and city.
Of course the primary clash is between The Light and The Dark, Good and Evil, but the books, while driven by that, are all the more involving because they evoke the grey areas between - grey areas of human nature, belief, fear, hope and fear, and all that is stirred up between.
Merrily herself stands at a point between both her personal and public roles, throwing up great drama even between her and the series' regular supporting cast, including the sublime guru of Plant Hire, Gomer Parry and invaluable companion Lol Robinson, himself gaining strength with each outing. Closest of all is daughter Jane, a character who, inexplicably to me, appears to divide opinion with Rickman's readership. (I deal with today's teenagers in my job as a lecturer and only wish more of them displayed Jane's compassion, barbed intelligence and sheer involvement in what the world throws in front of them. A ballsy, non-materialist teenager, hungry for a 'bigger meaning'? Kind of unbelievable, sadly, but I do believe, every time I read the latest .
All of these marvellous characters develop and deepen as the books progress. It's a unique series, reflecting influences within modern British life as much as it does the dread forces that circle it, and to which Merrily is fundamentally opposed.
No plot details here - you can just read the book - but I envy those who have yet to open it, or any others in this wonderful series.