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Savage Magic

(Charles Horton #3)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  43 reviews
It's 1814 and the streets of London's Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered, all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with no signs of ent ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Ltd
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  234 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Roxana Chirilă
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I came across this book in a discount bookstore and bought it on a whim - I liked the cover, the quality of the paper, the way it felt in my hand. Some time later, I finally got around to reading it and realized it's not the first book in the series. Well, no matter - it's still easy to read if you have no idea what's going on before it. There are some references to stuff going on before, but they don't matter that much.

So, what's it about, right?

In 1814, a constable's wife keeps having strange
Essie Fox
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
MASTER OF MALEFICIUM - Review of Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd

This is Lloyd Shepherd’s third novel and although it stands entirely alone, in many ways it also relates back to his previous novels, The English Monster, and The Poisoned Island.

There are recurring characters in the investigator Charles Horton and the magistrate Aaron Graham, with both of them again employed in solving a criminal mystery linked to certain people (or substances) imported onto English soil at the start of the ninetee
Liz Barnsley
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have to say that I do love Mr Shepherd’s writing – it has a dark, atmospheric brooding quality to it that I have not found elsewhere and it never fails to leave me affected, usually jumping at shadows for a while. This, like his previous novels, is part of an ongoing mythology involving Constable Charles Horton, but all are standalone novels in their own right so you can pick up any of them and have a terrific reading experience.

In this story, our hero is drawn into a world of suspected magic
Karen Mace
Sep 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Picked this up on a whim from the library as I was intrigued by the cover and blurb! More like a 3.5 rating than a 3!

Never read anything by the author before and found his style of writing to be fascinating as he combines crime with a supernatural twist, and really seemed to capture the essence of the time as it was set in 1814 in London, and you did get the dark feel of the seedier side of London life.

The fascinating aspect of the gruesome murders was a big pull of the book for me - all the vic
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Murder, witchcraft, secret societies. This novel has all of this, plus transportation and mad houses.
This is the first Lloyd Shepherd book i have read and i will be looking into his others.
He captures dark and dingy 1800's London wonderfully and his characters are interesting and well rounded.
The story is entrancing and fast paced.
A good, solid historical crime novel.
Kate Mayfield
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Bewitching Ride

I'd only just read Lloyd Shepherd's excellent The Poisoned Island when I was fortunate enough to receive a galley of Savage Magic. I feel I've been binging, in the nicest possible way, on a box set and have been on the Marvellously Murderous Mystery Tour.

It is not necessary to read Shepherd's previous novels The English Monster and The Poisoned Island before delving into Savage Magic, as each stands completely on its own, but why the devil wouldn't you - especially if you are a
Becky Wright
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Savage Magic is my first Lloyd Shepherd novel, although I realised there's two previous books in the series. Not a great problem as all stand alone stories. I was captured very quickly with Shepherd's poetic prose. He has a clear ability of painting the surrounding, characters with all the aithentic dark seedy atmosphere of early nineteenth century London. A strong supernatural element carries the otherwise gritty detective mystery through; as it cleverly unfolds. However, I found the concluding ...more
Thomas Gizbert
Jul 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: epub-on-kobo
Originally posted on Time Thy Pyramids.

You don't see many historical novels written in the present tense. There's three reasons for this. Firstly, novels have really only been written in the present tense for the past few decades, so if you're writing one that's supposed to be aping the style of the time (as this one does, badly), writing it in the present tense is an immediate barrier to that. Secondly, it's weird that the action has already happened a long time ago, but is also happening now.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Murder, witchcraft, secret societies.
This novel has all of this and more.
This is the first Lloyd Shepherd book i have read and i will be looking into his others.
He captures dark and dingy 1800's London wonderfully and his characters are interesting and well rounded.
The story is entrancing and fast paced.
A good, solid historical crime novel.

Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A historical novel with the story told in the present tense has to be a first for me. I liked that about this book; it lent a sense of immediacy. I found it to be a well-drawn mystery with much to get your teeth into and a variety of viewpoints.

Not aware that it was part of a series, that didn’t take away from my reading experience or the sense of time and place that was effectively conjured up. The plot strand featuring Abigail both drew me in and horrified me – rather like watching a scary mo
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm catching up on my reviews and sometimes its good to judge from a distance. in hindsight this was all rather silly and unworthwhile.
May 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Savage Magic is actually the 3rd book in the Charles Horton series, but it is one that can stand alone from its predecessors. I picked up the book about a year or so ago at a Half-Priced books because the cover and description caught my attention.

As the stars indicate, the story was just okay. It's a novel set in the 1800's, but it's written in the present tense. There were times where the plotting felt clunky and it didn't really have the pace that I tend to look for in a mystery-suspense novel
Alex R.
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn't like the style of writing all that much althought I powered through for the plot. That's just my compulsive nature to finish a book thought because I need to know what happens at the end.
I think the mysterious aspect of it was very forced althought I can't pinpoint exactly what it was.
At the end of the day thought, it just didn't do it for me. I was just happy to be finished with it. This book is the 3rd in the series from what I gathered but you can read it as a stand alone and I thin
May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Really didn't care for this one. Did not become involved with the characters and their plights. The story line wasn't well summarized on the back so what I got wasn't what I expected. Just not my cup of tea.
Julie Round
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
A different kind of book - beautifully written, with just enough plot to keep one turning the pages but with characters that belonged in a Hogarthian time. I think I will remember it for longer than a modern novel but it wasn't easy reading.
A book that irritated and enthralled in equal measure. The plotting was good and at times the setpiece writing, particularly in the mental institution, was riveting, but at other times the writing style led to a stodginess that interrupted the flow of the plot.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I adore this author. I get so lost in his characters.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very slow moving and found bits of it quite predictable.
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to win an uncorrected proof of Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd in a competition arranged by the author. This is the edition I'm reviewing and the reason I can do so before the book is published.

I've recently read the two previous books of Lloyd Shepherd - The English Monster and The Poisoned Island, and this is the third book in the series.

It's august 1814 (exactly 200 years before the publication month of Savage Magic), we're back in London, and Abigail Horton is being admitted
KL Caley
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a historical fiction novel set in Georgian-era Britain. Savage Magic is told from several viewpoints but mainly that of Constable Charles Horton. The book gripped me early on with a brutal and bizarre multiple murder investigation in an aristocratic area of London. Several of London’s elite are found together dead with bizarre masks covering the face, only the room is locked from the inside with no way for an intruder to escape. With plenty of questions but few clues and answers the poli ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this one. I haven't read the first two in the series and I didn't feel like I was missing anything.
I enjoyed following the story from the perspectives of different characters, which were well written. The story itself wasn't particularly thrilling, but I was invested enough to keep going and I finished this quite quickly.
I'm not in a rush to pick the fourth one up (and I am probably not going to bother with the first and second one) but should it fall into my hands at some point then I
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Constable Horton is back, somewhat frayed around the edges, but as stubborn as ever when it comes to solving supernatural crimes. After the events of the previous novel, The Poisoned Island, his wife Abigail has been committed to a very strange madhouse, where she passes the time reading A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to an agitated fellow inmate, with good results (Mary Wollstonecraft, keeping women sane since 1792!). Meanwhile, Horton is ordered by Magistrate Graham to investigate some s ...more
Janette Fleming
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's 1814 and the streets of London's Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered, all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with no signs of entry.

Constable Charles Horton's investigation into these violent crimes begins, quite by chance, at Thorpe Lee House in Surrey
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This is more 3.5 stars, but I couldn't quite give it 4 so rounded it down to 3.

Holy hell. That was one hell of a ride. This book is one of the hardest books I've ever tried reading. It certainly gave me a challenge, that's for sure.

I don't know if it was me or if it was because I was reading small amounts at a time, but it felt like this book took forever to get anywhere. All I can say, is thank goodness I am a person who insists on finishing every book I start, even if it takes forever. The amo
Brooke Hynch
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Phil Rickman Fans
Shelves: reviewed
OK so I'm officially in "Like" with Constable Horton. I love that he's married, and that he loves and stands by his wife - it's unusual in a detective story..but then this is so much MORE than your average detective story.

As this is the 3rd book in the series (yes you could read it as a standalone - but believe me - you don't want to get on this rollercoaster ride 2/3's of the way through! You wanna buy a ticket for the full ride!

I loved that the issues with Mrs H were resolved (sort of)...I did
Sue Thompson
May 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book! I really did, but sadly I felt very let down by it and by about a third of the way through, it became a chore to finish.
It has magic, murder, mystery, all set in a historic setting. So what's not to like? The truth is I can't say for certain.
I can only say that it seemed to lack the all important build up to that climactic point where the truth is revealed. It could also be that I guessed the truth behind the plot line from very early on. I'm usually very naive about
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The novel gives an intriguing overview of the different classes of people in England in the early 1800's - aristocrats, witches, gypsies, prostitutes, doctors, servants - as well as the melting pot of ideas, blending "old" folklore and "new" science, throwing up a maelstrom of conflicting viewpoints and feelings. It's a cleverly woven Whodunnit plot, taking the reader into a fog of confusion and incomprehension, before finally taking him by the hand and leading him out the other side where clues ...more
Stephen Taylor
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The most complex, intriguing and enjoyable of Lloyd Shepherd's 3 novels to date, which all feature Charles Horton, a Wapping river police constable.

The evocation of early nineteenth century London - across all social strata - is as masterful as ever. But the development and power of the main recurring characters and in particular Charles and Abigail Horton and Aaron Graham, is at a new level. And with less of the time-shifting of the previous two books (a device that I love across many novels),
Liz Smith
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You can smell the streets of Georgian era Covent Garden and Wapping in this book, and it's not a nice smell. One of the things I have liked about all of Lloyd Shepherd's books is his ability to bring to life a period in London, and Britain's history, that you don't often read about. Some of the places and characters existed in real life around which he weaves a magical plot line that is a page turner. My favourite character is the rather gruff detective Horton who is one of the first detectives ...more
Sue Yockney
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this third novel featuring Charles Horton, a constable who works for the River Police Office in Wapping in the early part of the 19th century. It's edgy and dark and full of atmospheric and evocative descriptions but never at the expense of a pacy, gripping plotline. The reader is led through a world of witchcraft and madhouses, whores and aristocrats until the different plot strands come together in a satisfying and gothic finale.
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I'm the author of The English Monster, The Poisoned Island and Savage Magic.

I don't really visit Goodreads very often - if you'd like to get hold of me, please go to my website, or give me a shout on Twitter.

Other books in the series

Charles Horton (4 books)
  • The English Monster
  • The Poisoned Island
  • The Detective and the Devil

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