Lance Greenfield's Reviews > Mystical Circles

Mystical Circles by S.C. Skillman
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Jul 09, 11

Read from March 28 to April 25, 2011

The story is based around Juliet who is obsessed about her mission to rescue her sister, Zoe, from Craig and his diverse community in the South West of England. Zoe has fallen under the spell of Craig and is unlikely to be persuaded by anything that Juliet can uncover in her investigative journalism role, or anything that Juliet can tell her.

There is certainly a wide variety of characters in the community, and their backgrounds and interactions are built splendidly all the way through the book. Indded, there are new revelations right up to the conclusion. One struggles to decide which of the charcaters is sane, of any, but this is a deliberate ploy of the author, and it adds a great level of interest to the story, which I really enjoyed.

There are two reasons that this book did not make it to four stars in my eyes.

The first is that it takes so long for the story to wind up to a decent pace. In fact, I would say that it is slow going up to about half way through.

The second is the number of irritating pauses in conversations. Sheila Skillman really overcooks this. "Several moments passed," or variations on that theme, become the author's repetitive and annoying cliche. If I had an electronic copy of the book, I would do a search and count on the word "moment," and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it turned out to appear at a frequency of more than one per page.

That thought raises a question that has been on my mind for many years. Just how long a moment is in absolute units of time? So often, I have been asked by a shop assistant or telephone operator to wait "just a moment."

How long do I have to wait?!

Despite this momentary quirk, I really liked the story and found it to be very interesting and captivating. I would certainly recommend it to my friends.
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Reading Progress

04/03/2011 page 77
20.0% "It's a bit slow getting started, but shows much promise of action to come."
04/16/2011 page 187
50.0% "I am still finding this a little too slow-paced. One thing that is beginning to irritate me is the number of "There was a pause..." and "A few moments of silence..." and "There was [yet another!] pause...." Enjoying the story though, but wondering why Juliet believes that her sister, Zoe, needs rescuing from Craig and his disjointed little community."
04/24/2011 page 333
89.0% "The story simmered for a long time and eventually, half way through the book or more, it finally started to heat up. The wide variety characters are very well constructed and they certainly interact! Still too many pauses, the worst of which was, "Two or three moments of time passed.""
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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S.C. Skillman Thank you for your review Lance - all feedback is valuable for me. In answer to your query - the word 'moment' appears 155 times in 376 pages! I take your point. Repetition is extraordinarily difficult to avoid! Even novelists I greatly admire like Susan Howatch, have pet phrases that are repeated again and again.


Lance Greenfield Yes. It is very difficult to avoid this repitition. I have noticed, whilst reading some books, that authors seem to get a phrase or word stuck in their mind, and it recurrs far too frequently for fifty pages or so, and then disappears for a while, just to reappear in large numbers a bit alter on. Perhaps a sign that the book was written out of sequence.

A long time ago, I read a Clare Francis novel which was full of "ironic," "ironical" and "ironically." It was awful!

As I said in my review, I really did enjoy Mystical Circles, so thank you. I look forward to reading your next book.

I deduce from your web site that you are an open-minded, but devout, Christian. Is that correct? It would be good to anticipate a future novel from yourself which delves much deeper into shamanism and shapeshifting. Is that a possibility?


S.C. Skillman I am a Christian, though the word 'devout' carries inappropriate connotations. The dictionary uses words like 'pious' and 'zealous' to define the word, & I hardly think I'd have written a story like "Mystical Circles" if that were true! Am writing my next novel at the moment & still developing the themes but hope to be able to take a synopsis to a writing workshop in London on 7 May.


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