Book Review · Crime/Thriller · Fiction · Mystery · thriller · Titan Books

Wychwood by George Mann (Book Review) @TitanBooks @George_Mann #BookReview #Crime #Thriller

5

Welcome to the first stop on the Wychwood blog tour hosted by Titan Books. I am honored to kick things off with a review of the book. Thank you for stopping by and please make sure to check out the other blogs taking part in the tour over the comings weeks.

Sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: 12/09/17

Publisher: Titan Books

ISBN: 978-1783294091

Format: Paperback, 352pp

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Rating: 4.5/5

Summed up in a word: Mythological

First Impressions

I hadn’t actually read a George Mann novel up until I picked up Wychwood! I know! The Ghost series looks so good, but as usual I have no time to read them :(. Wychwood is a brilliant crime novel that explored some pretty amazing mythological stories. Walking the line between real and supernatural, Wychwood never fully reveals it secrets, leaving the reader (or at least me) wanting to know more. Mann has laid the groundwork for a series so I am looking forward to him hopefully bringing us some more exciting tales rooted in myth and legend in the future. I highly recommend this to all readers. Full review below.

Book Synopsis

After losing her job and her partner in one fell swoop, journalist Elspeth Reeves is back in her mother’s house in the sleepy village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood, wondering where it all went wrong. Then a body is found in the neighbouring Wychwoods: a woman ritually slaughtered, with cryptic symbols scattered around her corpse. Elspeth recognizes these from a local myth of the Carrion King, a Saxon magician who once held a malevolent court deep in the forest. As more murders follow, Elspeth joins her childhood friend DS Peter Shaw to investigate, and the two discover sinister village secrets harking back decades.

My Review

For long term readers of my reviews, you will all know that I adore mythology in any form. So Wychwood immediately broke down my defences with its engrossing mythological elements. That said, I kept my head and managed to keep an objective stance on the story and… I loved it. This isn’t bold, dressed up mythology like the Greek or Norse stories we all read about. There isn’t anything grand about it; this is local, dark and gritty mythology about murder, betrayal and infectious evil. George Mann’s writing is solid, confident and compelling, he better be making this into a series as I am already invested and I need more.

Down-on-her-luck journalist Elspeth Reeves has returned to her childhood town of Wilsby-under-Wychwood. Having left her boyfriend and lost her job, Ellie is looking for a fresh start. When Ellie literally stumbles upon a murder scene in her mother’s back garden, she notices that the victim has been staged in a distantly familiar fashion. At the scene Ellie bumps into Peter, a childhood friend, who is now a Detective Sergeant in the local police. Glad to see a familiar face, Ellie attempts to glean some inside information about the case. Ellie senses she knows what the staged murder is a reference to, but Ellie can’t place it. Consulting the mythology books she collected as a child, Ellie reveals that the murder is identical to one of five sacrifices performed in the tale of the Carrion King.

Bringing this information to Peter, she finds out that another ritual has already been performed. Ellie wants to follow the story with the local newspaper but is stuck doing local interest pieces. When Ellie arrives to do an interview and finds a horrific murder has just taken place, her innocent stories clash with the biggest murder investigation the community has ever seen. Ellie is thrust headfirst into the biggest story of her entire life. Working alongside the police and local experts in mythology, Ellie must dissect the tale of a powerful 9th century pagan magician and the heinous sacrifices he performed in his mission of revenge before more people are murdered.

The concept of this book was brilliant and I could not get enough of the stories surrounding the Carrion King. They are dark, hair-raising and obscene! The narratives within this story fascinated me and I hope that they are explored more in future books. George Mann left it to the reader to decide whether these murders were performed by a serial killer having a psychotic episode where they believe they are the Carrion King or if they are the real deal. I had a great time with this novel, skirting the line between the real and the supernatural, GM never truly reveals all his secrets. My only issue with the plot was that it was a slow start in the first act, but that swiftly changed as details about the King begin to bring the plot together and fire up the intensity of events.

Elspeth was a decent protagonist. Her journalist instinct certainly overpowers her sense of safety which made for great reading. Her problems are promptly forgotten as she is dragged into a complex murder case. I liked her dynamic with Peter as well. I think they made an entertaining duo but their interactions did get rather repetitive i.e Let’s go see this person. Coffee first? Yeah why not. And repeat… But putting that aside, they are cunning characters who show serious potential if GM takes this on as a series. GM’s writing has a tendency to jump from casual, human and light hearted to deep, dark and horrific and it is fascinating to experience. One moment Ellie and Peter will be having a laugh and the next they are chasing leads and witnessing the horrors of a serial killer. It certainly keeps the reader on their toes until the shocking conclusion. I loved the fact that this is a crime/thriller that dangles all the answers in front of you, in plain sight, and if you are quick to put two and two together then you may be able to stay ahead of the game yourself. I was not that smart…

Wychwood reads like a police-procedural meshed with a journalist jaunt, with a big dollop of fantastic mythology thrown in to spice it up. I recommend this to all readers who enjoy crime/thriller novels that incorporate horror/supernatural elements. As I kept repeating during this review, I certainly hope this will develop into a series!

Pick up a copy of Wychwood here: Titan Books / Amazon UK / Goodreads

6About George Mann

Bio from George’s personal website: george-mann.com/about/

The Affinity Bridge, the first novel in the Newbury and Hobbes Victorian fantasy series, was published in 2008. Other titles in the series include The Osiris RitualThe Immorality EngineThe Executioner’s HeartThe Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes and the forthcoming The Revenant Express. In 2015, an original Newbury & Hobbes comic series will debut from Titan Comics.

George’s other novels include Ghosts of ManhattanGhosts of War, and the forthcoming Ghosts of Karnak and Ghosts of Empire, mystery novels about a vigilante set against the backdrop of a post-steampunk 1920s New York, as well as the original Doctor Who novels, Paradox Lost and Engines of War, the latter featuring the War Doctor alongside his companion, Cinder.

George has edited a number of anthologies, including Encounters of Sherlock HolmesFurther Encounters of Sherlock HolmesThe Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, and has written two Sherlock Holmes titles for Titan Books, Sherlock Homes: The Will of the Dead and Sherlock Holmes: The Spirit Box.

Very occasionally, he finds time to breathe.

15 thoughts on “Wychwood by George Mann (Book Review) @TitanBooks @George_Mann #BookReview #Crime #Thriller

  1. I love the mythological aspect of it and I’m glad that it didn’t influence your opinion in the end (well, not too much hahaha)
    A book definitely needs to stand for itself and not rely solely on its potential and it’s awesome that this one did just that.
    I’m incredibly curious as I have never read anything by Mann myself. Guess I should start with this one too!
    Wonderful review 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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