This book really got to me. It took a while to get used to his style but now I'm hooked. This book isn't just a story it is so much more. For me personally it was an experience - it was magical, it brought me closer to nature, made me ask deeper questions, allowed me to look more closely at 'faith' and what that is. At times I felt quite 'other-worldly' despite being perfectly sober :)) and I'm not much given to that way of thinking. The characters were beautifully drawn and I loved some, loathed others and felt angered and revolted by a few. This is about real village lives, and not in a glossy, always Sun shining way. It's hearty and gritty and dirty and wholesome and repulsive and earth moving. It won't appeal to all but I've downloaded the next two and I will never look at an apple or a glass of cider in the same way - oh and download Nick Drake' s albums. Two of the most haunting tracks are: 'Way to Blue' & 'Fruit Tree'! Fabulous read
Welcome to picturesque Ledwardine in the county of Herefordshire, a place that seems to be tranquil and full of olde worlde charm, but is it really the chocolate box picture that tourists think it is?
This is the first Merrily Watkins novel and we find her with her daughter Jane taking up residence in this small town as Merrily is the latest incumbent of the parish church. Before she takes up her position as the priest-in-charge so she visits a festival in the area, where a man apparently shoots himself. And when she takes up residence she finds that there are certain antagonisms amongst certain neighbours and families in the area.
With death and disappearances, is there really something supernatural going on or can everything be explained in more down to earth terms? Taking in old superstitions and rituals of Herefordshire and its reliance on its land for produce so we have a clash of ideas with the position of the Church of England, and also the image that Ledwardine is being forced to take with regards to tourism.
Does Merrily see spectres, or is it just dreaming, and does Jane see a glimpse of the world of the Fae, or is it just drunkenness? These ideas wind themselves around the whole tale as a girl suddenly goes missing, and the local pagan authority in the area dies in a road accident, along with other incidents.
What I really enjoyed about this tale was its multi-faceted approach to what is a crime story, which really brings to life the people and the area, making us all see the different values and ambitions of these people, with regards to their lives, ideas and work.
In a setting where tradition and superstition is more rife than in a large town or city this is quite involved, but does make for a very good and enjoyable read. Perhaps the easiest way to explain this would be something like the TV series Midsomer Murders on steroids.
I bought this novel because I was interested in the subject matter and the reviews were mostly good. I didn't find it the easiest of reads but the more I read the more I grew to like the main characters. It darts around a little following each of them as they move towards a conclusion that ties up a lot of loose ends. It is clear in this book that if there is a supernatural element it is vague and peripheral and down to the belief of the individuals. I say this because the supernatural is a thread that follows through the later novels and is built on a great deal.
As an introduction to the many other books in the same series this book was a success for me and I've actually enjoyed each of the subsequent stories more and more. The authors style has grown on me too. Well worth a read for something a bit different and closer to detective fiction with a little ghost story (is it or isn't it) thrown in.
This is the first book in the Merrily Watkins series, where Merrily, about to be installed as Priest-in-Charge of Ledwardine church, moves to the village along with her fifteen year-old daughter Jane.
Forget cosy, either from village life or from the Church of England. These are real, complex, very human characters, several with extreme trauma in their hidden pasts. As things become more entangled and greater stakes are played for, the situation starts to coalesce around a missing sixteen year-old girl and the apparent breakdown of Merrily as she becomes more and more convinced, against her will, that the rambling vicarage that is now home is, in fact, haunted.
First rate writing, wonderful characters and a terrific ear for dialogue, I can't wait to read the next instalment.
When I started reading this series, I thought the first 2 books good and the third, A Crown of Lights mediocre. However, from there the books improve dramatically. I am now up to book 10 and love them. Rickman mixes interesting true history and facts with an excellent cast of characters who are very believable and human. There are, at least, two main threads to each story, firstly the murders and secondly the historical facts, such as ley lines, green man, knights templar etc etc. Absolutely fascinating. I have to say that, overall, this is the most enjoyable series of books I have ever read (the Rebus series by Rankin is the only one comparable). Very well written and difficult to put down a lot of the time. He also makes you want to visit the area and I see there is even a book giving more details on the places in his books. And even cds by his fictional character Lol Robinson, which is a very novel idea. So, even if you are not entirely blown away by the first few books in the series, don't give up - the later ones are superb.