Science fiction and fantasy
by K. J. Charles
The story is told from both Saul and Randolph's viewpoints. Randolph is part of a band of occult chasers. The Shadow Ministry, a secret part of the British government, want all of the occultists to work for them. However, Randolph and his friends hate the Ministry.
Wartime catastrophes have left scars on the world, psychic as well as physical, and the waste of the Great War is an important theme in this very well researched story. There's an involved mystery involving bog monsters, the spirit world, and ancient English supernatural entities. Quite a lot of fast-paced action gets going when the tentacles of the spirit world reach into England to take on the main characters.
At the same time this novel is romantic and lovely, shading into quite explicitly sexy in later chapters. K.J. Charles isn't the kind of writer who fades a scene to black after the characters' first kiss, to say the least.
But it's not all about the love story. Spectred Isle is a rounded tale with an intriguing hook and characters who also seem alive. Saul is troubled and reserved, whereas Randolph has a kind of arrogance mixed with wit and determination. Randolph likes being in charge, but this doesn't cross the line into cruelty or boorishness, so he remains a sympathetic character. The story introduces elements of English folklore that generally aren't overdone in modern literature, so it has a fresh and unpredictable feel.
9th May 2020
If you like this, try:To End All Wars by David Tallerman
Lieutenant Rafael Forrester is not expecting to survive the trenches of the First World War when he is given a perilous mission. But he learns there is more to battle for, when he is shipped back to a country house hospital full of secrets.
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy