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21 of 21 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 7 months ago by Bill B

versus
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I have read all the 'Merrily' series and always enjoy the blend of mystery, relationships and the supernatural. Unfortunately, whilst I did enjoy the latest story, I was also a little disappointed.
The characterisation wasn't as strong as usual, particularly in relation to Merrily. In the absence of Jane and Lol she appeared rather sketchy and two-dimensional...
Published 5 months ago by Diane


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21 of 21 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
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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12 of 12 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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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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best yet., 8 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (MERRILY WATKINS SERIES) (Kindle Edition)
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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38 of 41 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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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (MERRILY WATKINS SERIES) (Kindle Edition)
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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rickman on top form!, 16 Nov 2013
By 
Grahame Gardner (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (MERRILY WATKINS SERIES) (Kindle Edition)
This is the 12th book in the Merrily series, and quite possibly the best one yet. Phil is definitely on top form with this one.

Boyfriend Lol is out on tour and daughter Jane is off on an archaeological dig for the summer. Left to her own devices, Merrily is thrust out of her comfort zone and also out of her home territory as she gets a call from old friend DI Frannie Bliss to help him investigate a possibly suspicious death near Hay-on-Wye that exhibits some occult overtones.

As usual, events swiftly take a more sinister turn with the disappearance of a young policewoman, and gradually a dark, complex tapestry of Neo-Nazism, sexual sadism and abusive ritual practices emerges, uncovering a decades-long battle between light and dark centred on the town.

Some much-loved characters from previous books make a welcome return; pagans Robin & Betty Thorogood, retired DS Gwyn Arthur Jones and former intelligence officer and ritual magician Athena White all have significant roles to play as the connecting threads of the story are intertwined.

Phil's impeccably-researched knowledge of the area and its history is seamlessly bound into the storyline and the inclusion of real places and events adds bucket loads of credibility to the fictional happenings. I've only visited Hay once, but this makes me want to go again so that I can wander round the streets of the town and the surrounding locations so vividly described in the book.

This is a real coming-of-age adventure for Merrily, as in the chilling dénouement she is forced to encounter her own dark centre and grasp the true source of her power. Previously she has shied away from this confrontation, preferring to seek refuge in cigarettes, scepticism and self-doubt. Now that she has finally stared into the abyss and seen the worst part of herself she has nothing more to fear from it. There will inevitably be a period of agonising soul-searching ahead, but she will emerge a much stronger person and a better Deliverance consultant. It's about time, too.
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5 of 5 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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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good., 15 Jan 2014
By 
tonypstokes@aol.com (Lancaster. England.) - See all my reviews
Phil Rickman gets better and better. Avoid the usual stuff and treat yourself to this book. Once in you won't want to let it go. Then, if you havn't already done so, read the rest of his stuff. Wonderful things lie in wait for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and unusual, 15 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Magus of Hay (MERRILY WATKINS SERIES) (Kindle Edition)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best detective series around at the moment, 18 Feb 2014
Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins makes a welcome return. As ever, all the characters are fully rounded, the suspense is gripping and the plot deft. We are as much drawn in by Merrily's internal journey as we are by the classic desire to answer the eternal question, "whodunnit"?
As ever with Rickman's work, this is not a ghost or paranormal work. Instead, the unknown, or the unwelcome, shades the narrative and adds to the tension.
Anyone who loves the current feast of Nordic Noir, or television series such as Y Gwyll or Silent Witness should demand their local book shop puts Phil Rickman front and centre where he deserves to be.
Peter Robinson or Ian Rankin could also take a leaf out of his book about how to keep a long running series fresh and exciting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, again!, 13 Jan 2014
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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