Marc Shoemaker's Reviews > The Wine of Angels

The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman
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's review
Aug 28, 12

Several years ago I read three books by Phil Rickman and was then frustrated that I couldn't find any others in local bookstores. For some reason, the advent of Amazon didn't make me realize that I now had a way to find his books. Until I got a Kindle for Christmas.

In January I discovered Rickman's Merrily Watkins series, and I am hooked. Since then I have read all of them except for the latest, which I will be reading shortly. These books aren't classic horror, but instead follow the life and investigations of The Church of England's self-doubting first female exorcist (excuse me, deliverance consultant), her teenage daughter Jane, eventual significant other/Nick Drake devotee/resurgent rock singer and guitarist Lol, and other friends, family, and antagonist. The characterization and the Welsh border settings create a rich texture that makes these stories live. Merrily's investigations don't always find supernatural explanations and she has yet, as of my readings, to perform a full-on exorcism, but instead they explore a world of thin places where the spiritual is always there, just beyond your vision. Well, usually beyond your vision.

The Wine of Angels is the first in the series (although I started with the next book, mistakenly thinking it was the first) and introduces many of the characters who will become important throughout the series as well as the black-and-white town of Ledwardine, which is itself a character in the stories. This tale begins with a suicide in an orchard and then follows a trail that exposes deep family secrets and the dark side of this peaceful little town's history.

I would highly recommend this series to anyone who likes mysteries and thinks that a touch of the supernatural enhances the tale. Rickman should be better known in America; there are few who rival his skill at telling compelling stories that draw the reader in with realistic characters and a sense of place.
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