Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Wine of Angels (Merrily Watkins, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Wine of Angels (Merrily Watkins, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Wine of Angels

(Merrily Watkins #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,794 ratings  ·  360 reviews
The Rev. Merrily Watkins had never wanted a picture-perfect parish — or a huge and haunted vicarage. Nor had she wanted to walk straight into a local dispute over a controversial play about a strange 17th-century clergyman accused of witchcraft. But this is Ledwardine, steeped in cider and secrets. And, as Merrily and her daughter Jane discover, it is a village where horri ...more
Paperback, 630 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Macmillan U.K. (first published 1998)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Wine of Angels, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Anne I am with you. I am annoyed by the flat characters ranging in one note display from apathetic to diabolically self absorbed. Reading felt like a chore…moreI am with you. I am annoyed by the flat characters ranging in one note display from apathetic to diabolically self absorbed. Reading felt like a chore. It kills me because given the setting it could have developed into a fantastic adventure. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,794 ratings  ·  360 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Wine of Angels (Merrily Watkins, #1)
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Phil Rickman is my favorite author and I would happily recommend any of his books, although this is probably one of my favorites. The Wine of Angels is part of a series that is part mystery and part supernatural. If you are lucky enough to find his books in the US (he is British) you will find them mistakenly (I think) shelved in the Horror section of your bookstore.

The main character is a female vicar named Merrily Watkins who is assigned to the village of Ledwardine on the border of England a
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed some of Phil Rickman’s stand alone novels, I have meant to try his Merrily Watkins series for ever (not to mention that my good friend, Damaskcat, has long sung the praises of these books to me). Having recently taken a holiday, I decided that I would finally get around to trying this and I am pleased that I did.

This first in the series, sees Merrily Watkins, becoming Priest-in-Charge of the village of Ledwardine. It is supposed to be a quiet and peaceful parish, a time and place
4.5 stars. Terrific book. Definitely a favorite, and one I'm glad I own. I really wish this one hadn't been genrefied. In my opinion, this is not just any crime novel. This book is special. It has lots of depth. And these characters! My goodness. This man knows how to write. He really makes this village come alive. I am truly impressed. Not sure why this series isn't better known. What's not to like? British countryside, huge old spooky houses, eccentric people, ghosts/fairies, sheep(!).

What mo
Marc Shoemaker
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 i
Nancy Oakes
At a whim and because it came up in a group discussion, I decided this might make for good reading this time of year. Not that this book is overpowered by what I call the woo-woo factor, but there are plenty of eerie, mystical moments that helped me decide to add it to the Halloween book list.

The Wine of Angels is the series opener featuring Merrily Watkins, who has just received her first real assignment as a newly-ordained Anglican vicar. While visiting the village of Ledwardine, Herefordshire
William Crosby
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
After a startling beginning, the book settles down into boring English countryside life to the point of proper tedium and outraged civility.

I often felt as if I was reading a combination of Henry James and Jane Austen (neither of whom I enjoy), but if you do you might enjoy this book.

I was attracted to the book by the description that it had elements of the supernatural. What little supernatural there was was too subtle for me (a few dreams). So, if you are not into the supernatural, this book m
This story is what I call a slow burn. The intensity of the story starts off gradually and builds to a crescendo. Think Ravel's Bolero. In fact, I think I will listen to the 17 minute clip of it on YouTube while I write this review. It will probably take me that long to write it.

I won't give a synopsis of the story line. Read the book blurb and a couple pages of reviews, and you'll get the gist of it. Better yet, just read the book!

What I really liked about this book was the slow burn and the ch
3.5 stars
It was difficult to decide whether this was 3 or 4 stars, in the end I settled on 3 although that does seem unfair.
It's got over 600 pages but even so, it has taken me over 3 weeks to read it. The trouble is, that as a result of continuing to work on major garden redesign, my own, I have never had a sustained period of time to read this book. This has meant that I have grabbed 15 pages or so , whenever I could so I have had real trouble getting into it. That said I read the last 60 or
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'd give this a higher rating than two stars for Merrily's sections, but far too much time was spent on her daughter Jane's perspective. Jane had the potential to grow up someday and become an interesting person, but was in the most irritating adolescent arrogant state for most of the book. It really got up my nose that she has a sort of nature-magic awakening as a result of being stupid enough to get dangerously drunk and -- yeah, just stupid. The evil old country family plot didn't do much for ...more
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Merrily Watkins series is one of those ‘genre-by-the-back-door’ series: it’s about the supernatural, but so subtle that readers normally put off by such things can read them as ‘a dark crime novel’ without too much unease.

Merrily Watkins is a single mother who, after the death of her husband, becomes ordained as a Vicar (or as they prefer these days, ‘a Priest-in-Charge’) . After working in the drug dens and crime zones of Liverpool, she is given the picturesque country parish of Ledwardine
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is a mess but a very interesting mess, like a dragon's treasure mixed with a bookstore and thrown into a hurricane. Well, maybe not quite that jumbled. There's wonderful things to find like local superstitions and families behaving badly over the course of centuries, haunted houses and fairies and cider and mistaken identities and four different yet significant car crashes. The main character is a young, beautiful vicar with a teenage daughter and a dead husband who engaged in criminal ...more
Jamie Collins
This is long and slow and suspenseful, and I very much liked the writing style. It has lots of short chapters, many of which begin or end with a bit of misdirection. I think this, along with the leisurely plotting, might annoy some readers but I was vastly entertained.

The story is a contemporary mystery/thriller with paranormal overtones, which were actually more subtle than I was expecting. The mystery at the heart is perhaps a little over-the-top, but the excellent writing makes up for it.

Pam Baddeley
A return to this series for me having read volume 3 some years ago. This is book 1 in the series and Merrily Watkins, newly qualified vicar, is installed as Priest-in-Charge (not quite a full vicar) in a small Herefordshire village in an enormous old vicarage where she and her teenage daughter Jane are rattling around like the proverbial peas. There is an undercurrent of unease starting with the unscheduled event during an apple orchard Wassailing ritual, and building through the book as it beco ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: paranormal
This was pretty the end. Nearly put it down and gave up a couple of times. Had to get about 40% way through before I started to enjoy it. Have already got the next instalment ready to read. I liked the fact it was mystical/ paranormal genre but in a realistic and believable way which kind of made it creepier. Also liked the complexity of the characters.
This the first Merrily Watkins mystery I've read and it was great. Well written, with detailed characterizations, it's a perfect Evil-in-an-English-Village creepy mystery.
Anna From Gustine
This is more a 4.5 or even a 4.75! :)

I love Phil Rickman. I first read Phil Rickman over twenty years ago. That book was Curfew (aka Crybbe) and I still have it. I love how he weaves British history with the supernatural and the contemporary. His books usually take place in small, sleepy, ancient English villages, the kinds of places you expect are probably pro-Brexit today. I especially love how thick his books are, the longer the better for savoring.

I had a dry spell before picking up this boo
THE WINE OF ANGLES (Paranormal-England-Cont) - G
Rickman, Phil – 1st in series
Pan, 1999- Paperback
Rev. Merrily Watkins and her daughter, Jane, have come to Merrily's first parish in the small town of Ledwardine; a town whose history revolves around two families and the making of cider. Shortly after arriving, Merrily attends a wassailing where one of the citizens dies from gunshot. Merrily is beset with nightmares and the feeling there's literally more than can be seen and involves a persecution
Josephine (Jo)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I am a great fan of Phil Rickman and I have just watched the dramatization of Midwinter Of The Spirit on T.V. which was excellent!
Merrily Watkins is a widow with a teenaged daughter. She is also a vicar and not just an ordinary one but a Deliverance minister, a more modern name for an exorcist. After being ordained as a minister she is given her first parish in Liverpool where she learns to deal with many difficult inner city problems. This however does not prepa
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was utterly bored at the start of this, I really didn't think I would finish it. Too wordy, too much background that ended up not having much to do with what the ending was and whatever else that was presently going on could have been left out. 589 pages? Totally unnecessary!
But then Jane caught my attention and I felt I could actually finish. Her storyline was much more interesting and really had the whole book been about her, it would have been much more satisfying!
With the last few chapters
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
I had really hoped to like this, as it seemed concerned with something I am very fond of, the weight of the past upon the present and how it shapes places and people. But I could not believe the characters, Merrily in particular; she does not seem like someone who has faith, I could not find the frame of belief in the way she approaches the world, and so her choices seemed more and more haphazard. More than that, however, I felt that Rickman did not trust me as a reader; he establishes certain d ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
I read this book as part of the England by Counties Group and in an effort to discover new authors. It was very detailed and unbalanced. The first 2/3rds of the book was really slow then, after nearly giving up several times, things started to happen and the end was rushed. Sadly an unsatisfying read which was only saved by the fact that something did actually happen at the end of the story. Doubt very much I will be reading more in this series. Wish I could have enjoyed it like most of the othe ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Wine Of Angels" is so much longer than normal, that continuance must be an idea that arose later. Its density delayed mystery and action but interest and curiosity are strong. It takes 100 pages before Phil Rickman's unusual story enters the residence where haunting should occur. An apple orchard is the other site of enchantment, abduction, and a murder. I was disappointed that the mystical instances in the orchard and vicarage, though suspenseful, were minor and few. Characters did not spe ...more
Katie Grainger
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago Midwinter of the Spirit was made into a TV drama which I really enjoyed. I remember Merrily Watkins was an interesting character, so when the opportunity arose to buy the first three books in the series I thought, why not.

The first book The Wine of Angels tells of Merrily and her daughter, Jane arriving in the village of Ledwardine. Merrily starts her job witnessing a suicide in the Orchard which becomes central to the story. As Merrily struggles with the pressures of her new jo
Oct 22, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anglophilic mystery fans
This was not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I normally never read mystery stories. They just don't do it for me. I tried this one on recommendation from a friend. It seemed like it had been such a long time since I had read a mystery that it was time to give them another chance.

This one is really well written. The characters are fairly well fleshed out and likeable. The story builds up nicely and has a pretty good finish.

It's rather longish. I have to admit, by the time I f
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the third Watkins book that I have read. I've read them out of order.

The Watkins books tend to be slow builders. Characters are fully developed and wonderfully human.

Merrily is a new vicar, actually priest in charge, in a small English village that would not be out of place in a Christie novel, though a Bronte or MR James story would be more suiting. In some ways, this book is like a drama version of the Vicar of Dilby, at least in terms of the impact a woman vicar could have had on a v
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Wine of Angels is my first Phil Rickman and I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a fascinating blend of supernatural elements and mystery in one novel. Merrily Watkins has moved to a new parish with her teen daughter Jane, to take over eventually as the vicar. Expecting a quiet village that is a break from her city postings, she instead finds political backstabbing, suicides, pagan rituals, a perhaps haunted vicarage, and much more. I loved the setting and the depiction of the vill ...more
Alison Horn
Oct 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this more than I did. There were many atmospheric elements that I thoroughly enjoyed, but ultimately it felt like a slog to get through this book. The end was great, but the build up was just too slow. I guess I'll try another in the series at some point albeit somewhat reluctantly.
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have been curious about the Merrily Watkins series for quite some time. Unfortunately, this British series does not seem to have ever garnered Stateside popularity, so it is a bit difficult to get your hands on in the U.S. But I have been slowly accumulating the series over the past few years as I have seen it in used book stores. Now that I have acquired the first few books in order, I am finally ready to start reading it!

While this first volume was not as spooky or mysterious as I expected i
S.C. Skillman
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I've come to this book, the first in the Merrily Watkins series, having started with no. 8 in the series, "The Remains of an Altar" - thus taking it in the wrong order. And having read Amazon reviews of the entire series, my thoughts are that I enjoy the characters and am drawn in by all the areas of Rickman's interests. But I find his plots slow-moving. This was a book I could put down, and then struggle to pick up all the plot and character threads when I returned to it. Merrily herself is not ...more
Julie Adams
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Whoa! What a twist- and turn-packed novel. Fair disclosure: You must be able to get into the British rhythm of prose and follow Rickman's many asides meant to be muttered under the breath by the speaker, to the speaker. If you can get that trick, this novel is very much worth the adjustment to a different way of speaking. Ancient village hires its first woman Church of England vicar. Hauntings and disappearances and deaths ensue. At the heart of the story are realistic characters with faults, fl ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins books 3 48 May 29, 2014 01:39AM  
Outlandish Texans...: Wine of Angels: Part ONE 2 20 Nov 04, 2013 11:08AM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff pick -- The Wine of Angels 1 8 Jul 20, 2012 11:46AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • This House Is Haunted: The Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist
  • Mean Spirit (The Cold Calling, #2)
  • Thirteen Steps Down
  • Monsters Unleashed!
  • The Cutting Room
  • The Funhouse
  • The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler, #1)
  • Demon Seed
  • For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered World
  • The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #3)
  • The Lantern Men (Ruth Galloway, #12)
  • Civil War II: Choosing Sides
  • Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man
  • Murder by the Minster (Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mysteries, #1)
  • Civil War II: Gods of War
  • Civil War II: X-Men
  • Civil War II: Kingpin
  • An Air That Kills (Lydmouth, #1)
See similar books…
aka Will Kingdom, Thom Madley.

Phil Rickman, born in Lancashire, has won awards for his TV and radio journalism. After five acclaimed novels, he introduced the fascinating Merrily Watkins series with The Wine of Angels. He is married and lives on the Welsh Border.

Other books in the series

Merrily Watkins (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Midwinter of the Spirit (Merrily Watkins, #2)
  • A Crown of Lights (Merrily Watkins, #3)
  • The Cure of Souls (Merrily Watkins, #4)
  • The Lamp of the Wicked (Merrily Watkins, #5)
  • The Prayer of the Night Shepherd (Merrily Watkins, #6)
  • The Smile of a Ghost (Merrily Watkins, #7)
  • The Remains of an Altar (Merrily Watkins, #8)
  • The Fabric of Sin (Merrily Watkins, #9)
  • To Dream of the Dead (Merrily Watkins, #10)
  • The Secrets of Pain (Merrily Watkins, #11)

Related Articles

The prolific and beloved author John Grisham, known for his courtroom thrillers, is back this month with a new pageturner, A Time for Mercy,...
32 likes · 5 comments