Customer Review

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Magus, 7 Nov. 2013
This review is from: The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries Book 12) (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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Nov 2013 23:59:17 GMT
What a cracking review! I too am a Philoholic, and have just got stuck into the Magus. I agree with every word.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jan 2014 09:36:51 GMT
All Allan Watson's reviews are an art form in themselves: click on his page and read all 47 of them. Am I making too big a leap of the imagination in deducing that Allan Watson, brilliant book reviewer from Glasgow is "Allan Watson" the Scottish guitarist and composer, who writes the songs for the CDs linked with Phil Rickman's books? If so, comparing their writing styles, I can just see why the two guys are on the same wavelength.

Keep those fabulous tongue-in-cheek reviews coming, Allan. You have already tempted me to try some of the books by other authors that you have five-starred.
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Location: Glasgow

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