And things get no easier: as an early winter slices through the old city of Hereford, a body is found in the River Wye, an ancient church is desecrated, and there are signs of dark ritual on a hill overlooking the city.
©1999 Phil Rickman; (P)2007 Isis Publishing Ltd.
"Dark ritual and psychic unrest confront Britain's first female exorcist. Endearing." (Publishing News)
Audible, you need to have ALL of Rickman's books available! This one was a good listen and was paced enough to keep me interested until the end.
"Killer Thriller Chiller"
`Mid Winter of the Spirit' begins with Merrily receiving training for her new post as Diocesan Exorcist. It's insidiously creepy stuff and the subject matter changes the reader's context of what is fictional and what is not - blurring the lines between real evil and the artificial villainy fabricated for the sole purpose of selling novels. Scary or not, just think how much fun it would be if they replaced `Hells Kitchen' with `Exorcist School'. We could vote off inept Priests who bungle their exorcisms and end up with pea soup on their vestments.
Once Merrily is declared fit for action she finds herself to be a political pawn in a game of ecumenical chess run by the power hungry Bishop of Hereford and she receives no help from the outward bound Exorcist-in-charge, Canon Dobbs who refuses point blank to even speak to Merrily never mind show her the tricks of the trade. He even goes so far as to ensure that Merrily is exposed to raw, festering evil in the shape of Denzil Joy. It gets worse for Merrily when daughter Jane once again chooses the wrong people to hang out with and is sucked into a Pagan worship group, generating a domestic conflict that almost destroys Merrily's already fragile relationship with her daughter. Aside from this there's the small matter of a malevolent spirit in the Cathedral and Merrily finding herself targeted in the cross hairs of a Satanic group who view her as a vulnerable link in the Church's last line of defence.
A highly original mixture of the `crime-mystery thriller' and `hair-raising chiller' genres and places Phil Rickman way ahead of writers on either side of these borders. A great book.
"Great Audio book"
This is really a great audio book. The story is really enthralling and the narration is the best I come across. I've listened to hundreds of audio books over the years and I must say that this is one of the best. I'd never come across Phil Rickman before and I just thought I'd take a chance on it, I am certainly glad I did.
"Top Quality Merrily Watkins Mystery"
Merrily Watkins is certainly one of the best drawn characters in contemporary mystery fiction. This book was totally enthralling and the writing truely conjured a wintery supernatural atmosphere.
Merrily is once again a 'woman of the cloth' under pressure personally and professionally and yet Rickman writes the character as neither arrogant nor simpering. Merrily is very much an ordinary woman who, in this story in particular, has an extraordinary job to do.
The familiar characters of Merrily's daughter Jane and friend Lol Robinson are key which adds to the enjoyment, and there are a host of other rich charaters too. This book was very well read and each character made distinct. Great listening !
"Spooky in places but not quite doing it for me"
It probably didn't help that I was generally listening to this strolling along in the July sunshine when the story is built around the dark forbidding atmosphere of midwinter. I wanted to be a bit scared and there were a few moments when it all came together but In the end it was all a bit meh. Despite the book being very long, the ending felt rather rushed.
I found Jane intensely irritating but perhaps she's meant to be. Despite having been a deeply self-involved teenage girl myself, I don't really want to spend so much time in the company of another one.
Emma Powell does a fine job narrating. Characters are clearly differentiated and have the right accents.
"Spooky goings on"
This is not really my genre, but then again what sort of genre is this? Its not fantasy or horror or your average murder mystery although it contains elements of all three and wouldn't normally be my cup of tea at all. However, Merrily is an amazing character, lone parent with a difficult teenage daughter (totally empathise there) and a female vicar to boot who has the unlikely job of diocesan exorcist or deliverer.
From this one story, I have gone on to read three more Merilly Watkins novels and have enjoyed every one. So, my advice is, don't label it, just listen to it and enjoy enormously.
"Miwinter will never appear the same again!"
As well as writing brilliant stories, the thing that strikes you about Rickman is he knows what he is talking about. He is an excellent researcher, novelist and master storyteller. His writing style is gripping, and can make you pull back from the pages at times, finding a disconcerting retort or two from a character, no matter how many modern novels you have read. This book has the power to take you by surprise. And you will love it!
The backgrounds to the stories are beautifully described, whether gorgeous landscapes, architecturally stunning or pleasing old houses, or bleak ruins and ancient monuments you would never want to to go near on your own. This book will capture you in its embrace from cover to cover, be prepared for missing time anomalies, it won't release you until the end ... and then it will haunt you.
"Prefered Wine of angels"
I took quite a long time to get into the first in this series ' Wine of Angels' but it crept up on me and now it has become a favourite. This second book may also have had a similar effect on me but I was distracted by the narrator, who was different to the fabulous narrator of Wine of Ages. This new narrator lowers her voice for the male characters and this made them rather cartoonish and flat and ultimately irritating... a shame.
I love these books, listened to Wine of Angels and was entranced by the excellent reading. I dont know why Emma Powell took over from Rebecca Lacey but I wish she hadn't. Don't get me wrong its still very good and I look forward to audible getting others in the series, specially Lamp of the wicked!
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