by Mary Saums
This month, I've got reviews of three excellent books I'd like to share. Two fiction, one non-fiction. All three stories take place in unique, compelling worlds of magic, mystery, violence and wonder.
WITCHES OF LYCHFORD, a novella by Paul Cornell, has a modern-day setting with hints of ancient scary fairy tale in it. Lychford is an old village in rural England. Among the small population is Judith, a strange angry-at-the-world old lady.
When a supermarket chain wants to build a store in Lychford, Judith, of course, objects. She knows the village could use the new jobs the store would provide. However, she insists all the digging and building would destroy certain safeguards that have kept evil spirits at bay for centuries.
The new vicar and the magic store owner had once been close friends. When they moved away from the village, each suffered traumatic events that still haunt them years later.
These three ladies have to put their inner demons on hold and join forces to do what's right for Lychford.
Paul Cornell is also the author of LONDON FALLING, a crime novel with supernatural elements, as well as episodes for the new DOCTOR WHO series, three of which were nominated for Hugo Awards.
VEILED by Benedict Jacka is the 6th book in his Alex Verus series. I love these books. Set in London. (ahem) When Alex was young, he trained under and worked for a shady dark mage named Richard. Alex escaped that life and now works as a free-lancer using his skills as a Diviner. This special talent allows him to look into the future and see all possible outcomes of an action, thus avoiding bad and sometimes deadly situations.
When he hears Richard may be back in town, Alex worries. He thinks it might be a good idea to offer his services to the Council of White Mages, try to ally more closely with the "legit" magics people. That way, it would be harder for Richard to lure him back to his old life.
The Council agrees to take him on, on a trial basis, to check out a secret sleazy brothel-type outfit called White Rose. He discovers connections to the Council itself and is determined to right the wrongs done to the slaves of White Rose.
I think this is the best book so far in the series. It has great action scenes, tons of firepower, uber-bad guys, giant evil killing machines. Treachery at every turn. His understudy, Luna, has matured well through her studies and I liked her much better. Don't know why, but I picture the actor Martin Freeman as Alex. Maybe because he does frustrating situations well.
I recommend the audiobook, beautifully read by Gildart Jackson, which I enjoyed listening to so much.