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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Town Noir
The Magus of Hay is number twelve in the Merrily Watkins series and here we find the quality and power of its predecessors returning stronger than ever. The 'town of books', Hay-on-Wye, is presented as an eerie place, its characterful old streets full of shadows and uncertainties. Rickman, as ever, evokes a wonderful sense of place.

A chain of events is set in...
Published 18 months ago by Bill B

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent read, but doesn't measure up to the rest of the series
I've read all eleven of the previous books in this series over the past fifteen or so years, which is an obvious indication of how much I've enjoyed them. They feature an ever-expanding cast of recurring characters, including Merrily daughter Jane, local musician Lol Robinson, West Mercia Police officer DI Francis Bliss, and many more. Rickman has a gift for cliffhanger...
Published 9 months ago by Joanne Sheppard


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Town Noir, 15 Nov. 2013
By 
Bill B (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) (Hardcover)
The Magus of Hay is number twelve in the Merrily Watkins series and here we find the quality and power of its predecessors returning stronger than ever. The 'town of books', Hay-on-Wye, is presented as an eerie place, its characterful old streets full of shadows and uncertainties. Rickman, as ever, evokes a wonderful sense of place.

A chain of events is set in motion by a seemingly ordinary death and a desperate whim to open a bookshop. What follows is the gripping story of unaborted seeds of resentment, how they grow within certain individuals, making them, through their delusions, into portals that allow the entry of evil. Benign spiritual intentions are subverted with sly and cunning deception. A tangled and chilling web indeed. Can Merrily Watkins survive this legacy of past aspiration and its continuing fatal repercussions? Can the battered DI Frannie Bliss keep up the pace?

As a bonus, The Magus of Hay features the welcome return of some familiar characters, a dense atmosphere and beautiful depictions of the landscape in and around Hay.

This novel grabbed me from the outset, unputdownable and plenty of bang for your buck. As is always the case with Phil Rickman's novels, the pages seem to fly past and when the few remaining pages begin to diminish with ever increasing speed, you can't help but wish the novel would never end - one of the most telling signs of a thoroughly satisfying and thrilling read.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 13 Nov. 2013
By 
Mr. Roger R. Berry "Roger" (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) (Hardcover)
Totally agree with all the praise given so far.

This is a brilliant book and one of Phil's best.

My only complaint is that it was a long time coming and when will the next one be out ! Seriously, it was well worth waiting for and I can't think of anyone who can weave a story that incorporates modern day crime, with old legends, with the supernatural and lots of human interest. Meeting Merrily and her circle again is like catching up with old friends.

Phil, if you are reading this, thank you very much and please don't keep us waiting for the next one !
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Hay and back.., 16 Jan. 2014
By 
Michael Bo Hansen (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) (Hardcover)
Phil Rickman is directly responsible for me and my family visiting the Hereford area several times. Despite all the evil stuff going on in his books, you will be left with a huge desire to go and see the places for yourself. VisitBritain should make him an honorary member.

Once again we are invited to join Merrily on her odyssey of handling inner and outer turmoil. The story features several characters who on previous run ins with Merrily, and events around her, were left broken and scarred. This could be considered the underlying theme of the book and it resonates strongly with the fragmentation going on around and within Merrily.

Even though this book is remarkable on its own, i would recommend new readers to start at the beginning. All the books in the series are extremely high quality.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rickman continues to fascinate as he explores the psychology of the border country, 30 April 2014
This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) (Hardcover)
This latest story in the Merrily Watkins series makes compulsive reading. I like Merrily herself very much, and several of the other characters, though I was sad not to see Lol or a longed-for resolution of their relationship. Phil Rickman's combination of interests continues to provide page-turning stories. Having visited Hay-on-Wye last year I enjoyed reading about it and recognizing the locations the author describes. And of course the ways in which the border country inspires the imagination are numerous. Perhaps it's part of our national consciousness that "weird things happen on the borders". I know that in my own development of ideas for stories my mind has often strayed to Wales as a suitable place for bizarre groups to have their HQ. It must be to do with the psychology of being on "the cusp". Amongst many other elements of the story, I did enjoy the tension between the police forces of Dyfed-Powys and West Mercia as they wrangle about whose patch the criminal activity has taken place on. And I'm intrigued by Phil Rickman's ability to blend real and fictional subjects and characters; I'd love to know how he gets away with it. I visualize him grabbing one of his interviewees on his radio programme "Phil the Shelf" and saying "By the way, is it OK if I put you in my next novel, in your own identity, as a sinister ritual throat-slasher linked in to a bizarre Nazi occult group in the mountains?"
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and unusual, 15 Nov. 2013
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I like Phil Rickman's style of writing, which is considerably more fluid and advanced than 95% of what gets published these days, Merrily is growing as a person, and we learn more and more of the mystical history of the Welsh border areas in this interesting and well thought out murder mystery. Bliss too, is becoming more rounded, and the involvement of the likeable and intelligent Gwyn Jones really added something to the plot, as his presence and insight moved things along nicely. I look forward to the next in the series...I enjoy the point of difference that is the historical research and the knowledge of the area and it's peoples.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best yet., 8 Nov. 2013
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Mr Rickman has done it again. Here I am once more at ten to five in the morning, bleary-eyed and blown away by story-telling genius. The magnificent backdrop of Hay- on- Wye gives both class and momentum to this latest page-turner featuring Merrily Watkins, exorcist vicar. I'm not going to give a synopsis as frankly my eyes are crossing, and you've already read what's needful above. All you need now is to know that the book is fantastic, magical, beautifully crafted, chilling in its depiction of evil both corporeal and intangible, and you'll need to clear your decks of other business before you start reading because it's very, very hard to stop.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, again!, 13 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) (Hardcover)
Having just read book twelve in the Merrily Watkins series once again Mr Rickman has pulled another gem out of the bag. Most authors writing a long series of novels tend to slump, often at book two or three but Mr R seems to be able to bring to the table a little more magic with each novel he pens. I am not the most adept critic, I can't enthrall with fancy words or clever comments but I do know what I like and what constitutes a good read and these books thrill with every page. Once you enter the world of Ledwardine you escape into the stories and become part of the community. I have been reading since the age of 4 and am now approaching that magical time of late fifties so have decades of tomes under my belt. I have to say this series has been one of the best I have ever read and if anyone deserves to be " noted" for their writing this author certainly does. His flair and talent enthrall and all it takes is for you, the reader to pick up the first, Wine of Angels and you will be catapulted into Merrily's life, family, adventures, call it what you will but you wont want to put them down. I wont review this book individually because many more competant reviewers have already done that. Just select the first and you will wonder why you havent found them sooner. Fabulous stories, absorbing characters and not a page skimming episode anywhere. Please read them, this author does know how to compose a story and should be up there with the greats, fantastic! Looking forward to number thirteen.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Magus, 7 Nov. 2013
By 
A. Watson "allan watson" (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
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Ever since Lamp of the Wicked, the supernatural quotient of this crime series has been stepped down, notch by notch, until you could be mistaken for thinking Merrily Watkins herself had exorcised all the lurking revenants hiding in the dark shadows between the pages. But just when you think it's finally safe to turn out the lights in Ledwardine, Phil Rickman gives the Creepy-Dial a hard twist to the right and we find ourselves in the middle of an authentically disturbing ghost story woven through with neo-nazis, sexual sadists, and a whole motley collection of Kindle-hating second-hand book sellers. I'm still unsure which of these scares me most.

One disadvantage of having a successful long-running series is the sheer weight of secondary characters picked up along the way, all demanding their own major story line (plus personal luxury trailers) and threatening to defect for Eastenders if they don't get it. So all credit to Rickman for having the courage to stand firm and thin out the pack, giving the stage-set a leaner, more tightly focussed demeanour that allows the spotlight to swing firmly back on Merrily Watkins. Pared back to basics and with fewer characters to juggle with, the story itself rises from the pages in a more direct and urgent fashion.
The underlying theme of `damaged goods' provides a strong undercurrent to the subtext in Magus of Hay with many characters either physically or spiritually compromised, each injury and hurt a mirror fragment reflecting the real principal character of the novel - the ailing and economically moribund Kingdom of Hay. This border town, once newsworthy for a meteoric rise in fortune due to second-hand book-trading is now in serious decline. Some blame the recession and the emergence of digital books for Hay's economic problems, but a select few, those shadowy practitioners of ritual magic from both ends of the colour spectrum, have their own ideas and are waging war behind the scenes for the soul of the town.

If you're already a fan of Phil Rickman you're going to love this book, while those of you dipping your toes in the water for the first time will be scratching your heads and wondering how the hell you've missed out on this wonderful series up till now.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making Hay, 26 Nov. 2013
By 
Duncan Baldwin (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) (Hardcover)
As ever, a Phil Rickman novel is to anticipated, counting of the weeks.
will it be worth the wait?
Yes, it will. There is more of Merrily to see this time, with Jane her daughter off on a dig, and Lol on a UK tour, she has no excuse not to give all of herself to the mystery at hand.
The star of the book is however the town of Hay on Wye, if you don't know Hay, find out a bit,look at pictures, get a street map, go and visit. And the interweaving of truth and fiction, real people and characters makes you wonder, could that happen, and you will believe it can, and did.

It reads well as a stand alone novel, but if you haven't already done so, read the series, it will give you just that bit more insight, and if you find yourself talking to the characters, don't worry, too much.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gift of the Magus, 9 Dec. 2013
By 
Julia E. Adams (Athens, TN) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) (Hardcover)
Merrily is called upon by friend and policeman Frannie Bliss when a local murder victim's house proves to have a huge library of occult books; related tangents have the pair then involved in some new and old mysteries in nearby Hay-on-Wye's bookshops and Capel-y-ffin's mountain top church. Phil Rickman's books can always be enjoyed on so many levels- that of crime fiction, local Welsh and English legend, supernatural and religious mystery, and just plain excellent characters. For us book-lovers, the setting of Hay with its castle and bookshops and lore is right up our alley. Old friends return, such as Gwynn Arthur Jones and Robin and Betty Thorogood. I was relieved that Robin doesn't wind up a stereotyped stupid American; in fact he gains acceptance and respect among the other eccentric booksellers in Hay. Lol's on tour recording a third Hazey Jane II album, we hope. Rickman leaves no taboo unturned, exposing the base and sinister sides of humanity- not unique to the Welsh border, of course. Merrily with her "peculiar tangents" achieves a sort of deliverance of her own. Rickman- one of my favorite writers ever!
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The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) by Phil Rickman (Hardcover - 7 Nov. 2013)
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