Discovered Phil Rickman thru an audible recommendation in 2009 and I never looked back. His novels are hard to categorize but are based on strong char..Show More »acter development and for those fascinated with all things UK he interlaces mystery, crime, faith, music, single parent life, politics and history into fabulous tales. I am not religious nor brought up in the Christian faith so it took a long time before I said yes to this recommendation. mmmm, female Church of England clergy who becomes an exorcist in subsequent novels? Really? Really! Add - a bit of the supernatural as possibility.
Rebecca Lacey is the narrator of "wine of roses" - the first Merrily Watkins and Emma Powell takes over in the second book of this series. Both super narrators. All books are available in audio but not all are yet available on audible. Most are available as e-books. Read, read, read!!! (listen :).) Characters are a bit quirky to US readers but this is what makes them so appealing.
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 na..Show More »rrator, 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.
Wonderful. Do push on through the rather slow start. As you get further in, you realise that a faster start would have left the listener confused. ..Show More »There is a lot of information and a lot of characters to be taken in, but once the groundwork has been laid, then the story romps away. Beautifully written. The reader was 90% there. She paused at inappropriate (to the sense of a sentence) moments. Her 'voices' really added to the atmosphere and to the characters. Extremely Enjoyable.
Once again Phil Rickman creates characters with depth and vitality. I also loved the 'drop ins' from characters mentioned in other books- it was lovel..Show More »y to hear the Thoroughgoods were still around and the mention of Big Wheel too. Gomer and Jane just get better with age and even Lucy makes a guest appearance :)
DS Andy Mumford has reached forced retirement age for someone of his rank in the Police-- 50 years old. He is very unhappy about it, especially when l..Show More »ooking at his ex-copper father's retirement and his mother's slide into dementia. His parents live in historic Ludlow which is fast gentrifying.
Meanwhile Diocesan Exorcist Merrily Watkins finds herself being pushed into a working relationship with Canon Sian Callihan Clark who resents her because Merrily was not part of the first group of feminists who fought for the right of women to become priests and psychiatrist Nigel Saltash whose interest in Merrily's vocation are not immediately clear although he does trust psychiatry more than religion.
Meanwhile Lol and his relationship with Merrily has become the target of an anonymous letter campaign.
Then Mumford's nephew, Robbie, dies in a fall fromLthe ruins of Ludlow Castle, maybe as the result of an attack or maybe suicide or maybe related to the ghost of a young woman who is said to haunt the castle. And what was the role played in his death by the mysterious punk gothic singer Belladonna, who has recently made Ludlow her home.
Not my favorite Merrily, but a good story that kept me enthralled for the entire 15+ hours and also provides some information about the darkest hours of Lol's life.
If you want to hear the songs referenced in the book as by Lol Robinson go to Amazon and download Songs from Lucy's Cottage. It really is worth a listen.
Oops, almost forgot to add, the Emma Powell does her usual excellent job of narration.
I have listened to the other two Rickman titles narrated by Emma Powell and loved them. They were so absorbing from the beginning that I couldn't wait..Show More » to find more time to listen. This one started out like that, and Ms Powell does her usual great job of characterizing voices, but this novel just wanders around aimlessly. None of the novels are heavy on the supernatural, but this one really doesn't focus on it at all. There is some suspicion of supernatural activity, but no more than one might find in any novel since it is never pursued. I was about to write a sentence about what this novel is mainly about, only to find out that I don't really know. The most interesting tangent is that dealing with ley lines, or as Jane prefers, Leys. But that storyline is abandoned for long periods.
Several times, I thought the book was over, only to look and find out that there were still several hours remaining. At this point, I have a bit over two hours left, I and just don't care anymore. I doubt that I will finish in spite of how much I love listening to Ms Powell read.
If you enjoy the Rickman novels, do yourself a favor and skip this one. It has soured me on him for a while.
Sometimes the narrator contributes so much to a series that they imprint themselves in my mind as indistinguishable from the protagonist. That has de..Show More »finitely happened with Emma Powell. She is one of the most accomplished narrators working today, and I wish she worked non-stop. That being said, the plot here is also absorbing. Listening while I garden is a favorite hobby, and this one kept me on my knees in the dirt til after dark.
I very much enjoy Rickman's skill in creating an intriguing (but grisly!) murder mystery and using that setting as a vehicle for exploring the boundar..Show More »ies between rationalism and mysticism and the perils of fundamentalism whether of the religious or materialistic variety. His generous view of the open-ended potentialities inherent in the Christian and other faith traditions lend a thought-provoking philosophical tone to his books without being too heavy-handed. We are never far from the central story--a murder investigation arising from the discovery of a decapitated head suspended in the window of an ancient chapel.
I have listened to a number of books in this series, although not in order (probably helpful, but not necessary). I particularly enjoyed this selection.
As always, the strong, good writing and character development. I've stopped reading books because of the clunky dialogue or unlikely behavior of chara..Show More »cters. Rickman tends to be dead on: people are complicated, weird stuff happens and the characters are questioning their own perceptions of them in totally believable ways.
TRYING to listen to the Merrily Watkins books. They're okay; entertaining stories written in Rickman's easygoing 'you can almost smell the instant cof..Show More »fee' style but the narrative....OH! the narrative! I could not hear a full third of this narrative. I've listened to these books on three different devices over the past few years and this happens with no other audible books so it's not a technical problem. My husband is from the West country and some of my best friends are Welsh, so nothing is lost in translation.
It's the narrative choices; in all of the Merrily Watkins books narrator Emma Powell uses hushed tones, lowered tones and whispering way too much. In the Magus of Hay, she seemed to use these techniques at every critical point. I actually gave up; listening to the end, but no longer rewinding every five minutes so that I still don't understand how some mysteries were resolved.
Rickman does like to layer his Merrily mysteries- physical, metaphysical and political intrigue abounds. The Magus of Hay has less that the usual share of church politics (my favorite subplot), but seems to be gearing up for a boatload of church gender politics in the next installment. The greatest mystery I encountered in The Magus of Hay was 'what was Rickman's agenda?'. I couldn't get past the feeling that the unusually (for Rickman) contrived plot and characters were all related to the UK literary scene and the whole book was an inside joke I didn't understand.
Maybe I'm way off base- maybe it's that I couldn't hear it. I wish we had comments enabled so someone could tell me.
I do have something to add- Ms Powell is a good, solid narrator. These book productions are directed and edited. It is up to the people who vet the productions by listening to them to decide what works and what doesn't. They must listen in a soundbooth with giant noise cancelling headphones and zero ambient sound. That's not possible in the real world.
It's a Novella, 3 1/2 hours of listening time, but Rickman managed to get in a lot of what I enjoy about the Merrily Watkins series. There's more of ..Show More »an obviously supernatural strand in this particular story about a house in a modern housing development, built in the mid 20th century by an architect who had a dispute with the former owner of the land.
Merrily is called in to investigate complaints by the wife of the pair who currently own the house and finds herself caught up with Facebook, a gory death in the past, and the house that is at the middle of it.
I enjoyed listening to it although I missed the length, plot and character that Rickman usually has in his stories.
I love the Merrily Watkins series but I would beg you if you have not read the prior books in the series that you do not start here. It is not as thou..Show More »gh you really need to know all of the backstory of Merrily and Lol and Gomer Perry, but it would add to the pleasure of a book that isn't completely horror or completely mystery.
Things are changing at the Hereford Cathedral. Merrily's affable Bishop has retired and the new Bishop is a reformer. In fact he is a fire and brimstone modernist who is calculating how much the Church could make out of selling the 15th Century Vicage of Ledwardine and put the Merrily and her daughter in a semi-detached on a local estate. He also thinks that the Church would do quite well without the post of Diocesan Exocist, Merrily's night job.
So far so good. But while Merrily is coping with these changes as well as her first attempt at calming an interfaith psychic disturbance, there is also the mystery of a stolen archaeological artifact and a couple of murders, as well as an upcoming shake up in Gaol Street. And the ancient, kittenish Miss Athena White meets Huw Owain
Many of the characters in this book have appeared in prior books by Rickman, he even gives a nod by reference to his latest non-Merrily novel--Night After Night. If you know and love the books grab this. If you don't know and love the books yet, go for the first one The Wine of Angels (Merrily Watkins Mysteries).
I bought both the hardcover and the audible book-- The hardcover to put on my shelf and the Audible because I love Emma Powell's narration. She does a good job here as she always does, with these books.