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