In an isolated community on the Welsh border, an atmosphere of stifling menace develops - with the persecution of innocent people, false accusations and the formation of a Christian vigilante group. Diocesan deliverance consultant Merrily Watkins is expected to keep the peace as this cauldron of conflict threatens to boil over into serious violence, Merrily uses all the diplomacy she can muster. But, as the confrontation moves towards its climax, she is unaware of a personal threat against her from a deranged and violent man.
©2001 Phil Rickman; (P)2008 Isis Publishing Ltd
I've listened to every Phil Rickman book available. I love them all, But this is by far my favorite. Phil Rickman tells a great tale. As far as the narrator, I think Emma Powell has the perfect voice for these books. She's narrated them all and I've come to associate her voice with my mental image of the characters. It wouldn't be the same with another voice.
Very imaginative story but you must have a liking for really "out there" weirdness. Well written and well narrated except for one important character who speaks in a whisper (why?).
"Pagans 1 Christians 0"
At some point the snake-handling, talking-in-tongues, jitter-bugging Christian militia across the pond are going to fix their sights firmly on Phil Rickman and have a good ole book burnin' (not to mention a possible lynchin'). But until such times those us who believe in peace, love, religious tolerance, free dental care and the Great Pumpkin, can continue to enjoy Rickman giving the ultra-right wing fundamentalists a damn good kicking.
The only very slight criticism (a mere teeny weeny micro quibble) I have about this book is that Rickman may have made his two principal Wiccans far too nice and likable. I can tell you from personal experience that some Pagans are extremely grumpy. When I used to have a paper round, a cantankerous old Wiccan frequently complained about my late deliveries and never once gave me a tip (except to advise me on the uses of Witch Hazel as an astringent when I fell off my bike).
As for the book.......nice fluffy Wiccans aside - Rickman's fingerprints are on every page as he ramps up the conflict levels, placing his central character Merrily Watkins into a hostile environment where she is forced to intercede between the pious and dangerously delusional Rev Nick Ellis and the not quite so fluffy Pagan stormtroopers who offer moral support (and herbal tea) to their persecuted coven mates. Merrily's main problem is that she discovers her own faith has more common ground with the opposition than the snarling, mob-handed zealots with whom she shares a God. I've never been comfortable with books that have an underlying moral message but in this case I'll make an exception as Rickman presents the argument that all religions draw their water from the same well and only the ideology and the costumes change.
Now about that Great Pumpkin....................
I have read all of the 'Merrily Watkìns' series up to and including his latest, "The House of Susan Fulham". I have enjoyed them. I enjoyed the audio version of "Crown of Lights" except for the irritatingly low breathy voice of the narrator when portraying several of the characters of the story. Many of the other voices she used were spot on, particularly those of Merrily and her daughter Jane. But I became more and more disappointed with the voices of Gomer, Sophie and and several others. Soto vocé is fine occasionaly, but not as persistently as the narrator seemed to think fitting. It disappointed me.
Worryingly; I have a half a dozen more to listen to. Oh well, I'm not going to waste the money I spent buying them. I just hope the breathiness isn't as ubiquitous in them.
"As believable as an episode of Scooby Doo"
The saddest thing about this audio book is that Phil Rickman truly is a great writer ? one who has the gift of making the mundane interesting. However this book is ruined by several factors. The plot is ridiculous. It?s like Stephen King meets Scooby Doo. Rickman employs these really hackneyed page-turner techniques that just annoy the hell out of you. He promises so much in the way of intrigue, but fails to deliver. The comic book style villain was a joke. I?m amazed that Rickman resisted the urge to add the line, ?I would have gotten away with it if it hadn?t been for you meddling kids?. I got the feeling that this book was more about ridiculing people who are politically left of centre, or are looking for an alternative to a lifetime of 9-5 drudgery, than it was about delivering a convincing book about an exorcist/detective. But the thing I found most unbearable about this book was the narrator. Her style is so dreary. She places large pauses between every sentence; like a politician who?s trying to add weight to his speech. She speaks in hushed tones, which I?m sure she believes adds atmosphere, but it just bores you to death. The only way I could stand to continue with this audio book was to burn it to CD and play it on a gadget that allowed me to speed it up without altering the pitch; Couldn?t have stuck with it otherwise. My 2 stars are for Rickman?s skill as a writer, but everything else was poor. Won?t be reading another Merrily ?Scooby? Watkins novel.
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