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Ragged Alice

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  391 ratings  ·  91 reviews
In Gareth L. Powell's Ragged Alice a detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people's souls.

Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. As soon as she was old enough, she ran away to London and joined the police. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at f
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 23rd 2019 by Tordotcom
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  391 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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If an evening's worth of whiskey kept her from killing herself, it was the next morning's tea that truly kept her alive.

I'm truly torn on the rating for this one, because it has so much potential, and it got a lot of things right. The Welsh setting is fantastic, and used well - all mountains and sheep and lonely coastlines - there's even a decent smattering of Welsh throughout. It's decently creepy, too, which is always a plus on the scale.

But there's just a little too much here that didn't work
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

I received this ARC from Tor in exchange for an honest review!

CW: death, murder, gore/gruesome deaths, and parental death

Over the weekend, I had a weird craving for books. I wanted something super creepy because it was dark out. I swear, I watched three seasons of Ghost Adventures, a show I will always mock, because it fit my mood. And, this book did it too.

I loved it. Seriously. It fit the mood I needed and it stayed good.

DCI Holly Craig is born and rais
Elizabeth Tabler
Ragged Alice, a novella by author Gareth L. Powell is a whole lot of information in a tiny package. It is one of the novellas that had me shouting, "why aren't you a full novel?" A problem that novellas and short stories can run into is trying to do too much in a small amount of narrative time. When doing too much, and covering to much ground, it can come off flat because of the lack of character definition, exposition, and world-building. Powell's novel is such a good premise but comes off as r ...more
Holly (The GrimDragon)
"That was the thing about death, though. It affected different people in different ways, and you could never really predict how anyone was going to react to a mangled corpse. In her time, she'd seen strapping six-foot coppers go weak at the knees while attending their first RTA. Others fell apart afterwards, when all the mess had been cleaned away and their minds started chewing over the horrors they'd seen. You'd have to be made of stone not to let that part of the job get to you. Sometimes fli ...more
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars -- I would try again with this author, but I don't think this one came together particularly well. A lot of good ideas, but it needed to be shorter/more focused, longer/more expansive, or have a better pay off in the ending. The atmosphere it painted was very well executed & I was intrigued by the characters (enough to finish the book), but it didn't work fully as a mystery nor as speculative fiction ...more
Kat, short for Clara
It was... fine. I enjoyed the writing and the setting (seriously, it gets all the stars for being set in Wales with Welsh characters occasionally speaking Welsh with NO translations). I thought the characters were okay, if a little cliched at times.

But I think the book falls victim to its length (it's around 200 pages but definitely needed more imo) and the possibility that it's book 1 in a series. There's a lot of set-up but not equal payoff. Plot holes that left me scratching my head. Convenie
Originally posted to I Should Read That

I hadn’t read anything by Powell before, but he just won the British Science Fiction Award for his full-length space opera Embers of War. I wanted to give him a try, and Ragged Alice look great! It is a totally different kind of book from his space opera, but it showcases his excellent writing. Ragged Alice follows DCI Holly Craig as she returns to her hometown in Wales to investigate gruesome murders. The catch? Holly can essentially see people’s souls and
I love all the ideas in this little package, but it is also one of those novellas that has me yelling WHY AREN'T YOU A NOVEL DARLING all the way through.

100% would read novels about DCI Holly Craig. Now want to know all about her mysterious London Case of Awful and her even more mysterious future of Ooh Blimey Really That's Interesting.

Full review to follow.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this fast paranormal crime novel, we meet Holly Craig, London Detective, who travels back to her sleepy coastal home town in Wales. She is here to take a breather from a big job back in London, and this crime seems like an easy open shut case- a woman is hit and her partner was seen following her after a dispute. Should be a walk in the park, but there is something larger and more sinister at work here, that is going to go back into Holly's own history, a past she has spent her whole life run ...more
Jun 28, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
If you 'can literally see the evil in people’s souls,' you'd obviously become a detective. Amazing.

Also, this is a 'tale of horror set in the Welsh valleys' and I'M HERE FOR IT \O/

Another win for, TBH
Mayar El Mahdy
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it

I liked the characters, they would make a great detective series, but I don't think it is in the meantime.

Scott was lovely, I really liked him even if he didn't show up a lot.

(I'll give it an actual review after the exams. I hope so.)
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting short novella about horror in a small town
Mike Finn
Ragged Alice is a smooth blend of police procedural and supernatural thriller with an authentic Welsh setting and lyrical descriptions.

I consumed the 202 pages of "Ragged Alice" in a single sitting, partly because I needed to know where Gareth Powell would take the story and partly because I was beguiled by the language.

"Ragged Alice" is the start of a new series featuring DCI Holly Craig, No, don't groan and say "not another one?" True she's a police officer who drinks too much and has poor soc
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was fine. I enjoyed the writing and the setting. I really liked the descriptions of the different places and could picture the surroundings very easily. I also like the premise, having the ability to see the evil in someone and using that to solve crimes, sounds pretty interesting to me.

However there were a lot of inconsistencies with the characters, particularly with Holly. I felt the way she was described in the text was at odds with the way she acted, and I thought her handling of the ca
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A very good supernatural police procedural with a compelling flawed protagonist and very creepy worldbuilding that unfortunately spends too much time on setup and while it does have a concrete ending it just comes so very fast, leaving me with the thought "What? But I was just getting into it!"

I hope for a sequel, perhaps as a full novel :)
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More, please.
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, and promising for a potential sequel, though quite rushed at the end.
Kerry Pickens
Interesting mystery and the writer obviously has talent, its just the story never seemed to take off. I lost interest in it despite the setting and characters.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella
Urban Fantasy set in small town Wales, with a series of deaths being investigated by a hard-bitten police office returning to her roots after a traumatic time in London. Oh, and she can see into people’s souls. Interesting stuff, and evoked a really good sense of place, but if you write in the mode of gritty police procedural you need to get things right, and the lack of intervention from above given an ongoing sequence of enough deaths to be making national news really wasn’t plausible.
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.

I wanted to read this novella because I'd heard good things about the author's Ack-Ack Macaque series, and this didn't seem like a huge time investment. Plus I like paranormal detectives. And Wales.

Unfortunately, this book wasn't especially memorable. Holly Craig seemed like she should be an interesting character- she can see the stains of evil deeds past on people's souls! However, this ability really didn't come into play in any
Nicholas Whyte
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I liked this a lot - police procedural meets horror, as with a lot of popular UK-based writing at the moment, but this time in Wales rather than London (Cornell/Aaronovitch). Some bits didn't quite make sense, in terms of police procedure - how come the protagonist gets called in so quickly? How come nobody in her chain of command spots the resonances with her own personal history? - but it was a compelling if chilling read.
Emma Leadley
Second read: I very much enjoyed this on the reread. This time I knew what to expect and was able to immerse myself in the story. The dialogue is very well-written, so much that I can hear the Welsh accents in my head and the plot is firmly anchored in the landscape. I like the nods to folk horror and there are some brilliant lines to find, like easter eggs amongst the prose. I'd love to read a prequel or sequel to this.

First read through: This wasn't my favourite. It was well-written and a dece
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing super original in here -- it's really more of a remix of supernatural/paranormal tropes, but it's done very well. Mr. Powell certainly has a gift with words, and I thought the atmosphere was very convincing. I didn't find it scary (my local library has it stamped with a 'horror' sticker), but I thought it was a good ghost story and an excellent study in small town character dynamics. I loved DCI Craig the most when she was reflecting on her relationship with place. ...more
Lana Brown
Mar 30, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am always on the lookout for suspense/thrillers that are cogent, believable, and truly suspenseful. Many of the most popular titles are really not. Ragged Alice starts out fairly well. Good mysterious murder. Detective comes back home to where she had a troubled past. There's even a murder in her background, one that's never been solved. Not super original, but intriguing enough. Then it all goes haywire. She has an ability to "see" into people's minds, and know if they are guilty (like an aur ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With such an incredible premise, wonderful creativity, and quick-paced prose, It was surprising to me how Ragged Alice simply didn't work. I love authors that trust readers with brevity, but in the 199 pages of this novel, I wanted more and wanted it to be over at the same time. The premise of a detective that has the ability to see "evil" in people is promising and interesting. Powell barely uses this idea throughout the novel though. Other characters are given the opportunity to interact with ...more
Jessica Calvert
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Bradley
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote -

DCI Holly Craig has returned to her unpronounceable Welsh home town of Pontyrhudd after some unexplored disaster in London. After graduating high school or second form, whatever it's called in Pontyrhudd, Craig shook the dust of Pontyrhudd from her feet and left for London and a career in law enforcement where she did very well because she is blessed or cursed with the ability to read souls. This essential gift
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shaun Dyer
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ragged Alice is the first detective novel by popular sci-fi author Gareth L. Powell. The first thing you'll get from the book is the wonderful sense of place. The author does a brilliant job of bringing the setting of Pontyrhudd to life, not just with his colourful descriptions but also by dropping in some Welsh for a little extra splash of authenticity.

The book has some memorable characters from the hard-drinking, soul spying protagonist DCI Craig to the delightfully eccentric Mrs Phillips. The
Powell has a great writing style. He has an excellent flair for detailed settings and atmosphere. For all the care he puts into his descriptions, though, the plot moves far too quickly. We get pages of detail and then paragraphs of plot. I feel like this is a novel-length idea crammed into a novella.

It's also interesting to read this story while also reading Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series, since Holly, the main character who is a Detective Constable in Wales, has an ability that seems to b
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Gareth L. Powell writes science fiction about extraordinary characters wrestling with the question of what it means to be human. He has won and been shortlisted for several major awards, and his Embers of War novels are currently being adapted for television.

He is also a magazine columnist, digital artist, and script writer for screen and comics.

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