Review of Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd – 4 stars

Savage MagicSavage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 police are left stumped.

We follow Constable Charles Horton who has travelled to a small village that is surrounded by fear and folklore. Charles has the difficult job of unravelling the truth from the tall tales told at Thorpe Lee House and are the events connected to the brutal killings of aristocracy in London?

Savage magic also follows the story of Abigail (Horton’s wife) who has checked herself into a Hackney Madhouse with the hope of stopping the lady in her head. Instead of escaping the torture Abigail finds herself in the cell next to a woman that seemingly can control the minds of those around her.

In a tale of sweeping madness, can Charles and Abigail believe what is really happening before them and connect the pieces together in this large magical historical puzzle?
Shepherd’s characters really help drive this puzzling story forward. He weaves a lot of themes into this story including madness, murder, remote villages, prostitution, and witchcraft, using his skills to keep the reader guessing.

This is such an unusual novel, I have noticed that it is actually the third from Shepherd with the others featuring some of the same characters but I read it purely as a standalone and it didn’t detract from the story or need background filling in.

I would recommend this book for readers of Phil Rickman or similar. Historical fiction with a hint of other (very big hint in this case). I would also recommend if readers enjoy this type of novel to check out The Witch of Napoli by Michael Schmicker, a great book in this genre.

Summary
The Good – Great plot, unusual story and characters with a great mix of settings too.
The Bad – A little slow in places as other reviewers have said, but overall worth continuing.

View all my reviews

For a quick look at my review for The Witch of Napoli – visit here.

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Finding the Perfect Potion

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien


Suzie looked along the jar labels, she hadn’t realised there was so much she could buy; love, friendships, dreams, wishes, time. She looked at the old gnarled woman behind her who was busy labelling up jars. Susie had heard stories about her, that some of these potions were tricks, but she needed to risk it. She needed to change something in her life.                    She looked back along the shelf until she came across an empty jar, the label was worn so that she couldn’t make it out. Lifting it, she looked inside it definitely looked empty. She looked at the price tag “Price on Enquiry”. Great, that was no help, she turned intending on interrupting the old lady but before she could the woman appeared by her side.

“Can I help you, my dear, what are you after?” The old lady crooned at her.

“Well…I’m not really sure. I got recommended you as I need to change some things in my life…” Suzie let her voice trail and then feeling uncomfortable said, “What is in this jar, is it empty?” The old woman laughed.

“Empty, no no my dear, that one is just a lot trickier than all the other potions in the shop. It has to transform you see. It never works the same on any two people.”

“Transform? What do you mean transform? What kind of potion is it?”

“Happiness, of course. Very difficult potion indeed it takes a lot of magic to make a tiny bit of that stuff, and of course, if the taker resists it, it will never work.” The old woman’s pupils grew wide as Suzie dove into her purse.

“How much is it? I’ll take it, it’s exactly what I was looking for?” But the old woman turned away from her and back to her other jars adding more labels.

“Ahh.. then I’m afraid I can’t sell it to you?”

“What, why not?” Suzie demanded. She thrust her purse towards the old lady, ” I have the money. Why can’t I have it?” The old lady looked at the purse, her eyes glinting then shook her head.

“No, my dear, I wish I could but it would be pointless. Happiness will never come to you while you are looking for it.  You have to open your eyes and your heart to so much more, then, perhaps, happiness will work for you.”

The old woman watched as Suzie physically deflated before her. She walked around the counter and lifted on of the jars from her shelf.

“Why don’t we start you on this one my dear, you never know where it might lead?”

Suzie nodded and looked at the jar label, Friendship. The old lady winked at her then turned around and began dusting jars. Suzie shook the coins from her purse and left the shop, ready to start her new adventure.

happiness


 

Originally written for #WQWWC – Happiness theme pop over to Colleen and Ronovan’s page for a collection of creative responses to the theme. Hope you found happiness in my magical take on this weeks theme. Which potion would you buy? KL ❤

The Shrine #writephoto

The bard looked at his people bustling around the campsite and then glanced back towards the shrine. It was a small gesture, not like the great shrines they made in their villages, but it would have to do. They had been lucky to find this abandoned place. Residents must have scarpered many years before when the English had started commanding lands. The Welsh were ready to fight, ready to reclaim what the English had taken from them. He hoped the shrine would bring them the luck they needed.

The bards gathered on the hillside, below they could see the Welsh and English armies preparing for battle. The bards raised their arms and began to chant. The clouds moved across the sky and storms began to gather above the English army, the bard look at his men, nodded once then continued to chant louder and louder. Tonight they would be victorious.

 

Pale Bones photo by Sue Vincent

Pale Bones photo courtesy of Sue Vincent

 


Originally written in Response to Sue Vincent’s #Writephoto challenge – Pale. Check it out for a wide variety of interesting writing.