The Wine of Angels

The Wine of AngelsThis 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 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.The setup a newly ordained Anglican priest, a young widow with a teenaged daughter, takes up residence in a rural parish in England She s to preside at a picturesque medieval church at the border of a spooky old apple orchard, and she s to live in an ancient vicarage which is huge and decrepit and feels haunted She receives a mixed welcome from the locals, and she s immediately thrown into a controversy surrounding the local legend of a 17th century vicar who was accused of witchcraft. 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, deciding whether or not to go for it take the job , she arrives just in time to witness a strange ritual under an old apple tree known as The Apple Tree Man It is supposed to be a traditional wassailing, but one of the villagers an incomer, there only about a year and a half takes it upon herself to add rifles to the mix, citing a reference in a book about collected folk customs One of the long time villagers, Lucy Devenish, contests that decision, saying that since it s not a local tradition, what they re doing may end up causing offence to the orchard itself, but rifles are fired anyway and Merrily stands by as one of the men blows off his own head If that s not an attention worthy opening to a novel, I don t know what is That event will return to the story later, but in the meantime, the struggle between modern and traditional takes center stage in this mystery, and perhaps the villagers would have done well to heed Lucy s advice, especially after a local girl goes missing, last seen heading to the Orchard It s fun, it s intelligent, and it s not just another point A to point B mystery story with a tired plot that s been done over and over again combined with the huge focus on the people in this book, the ongoing struggle between modernity and tradition, the mysteries of nature, and the secrets that foster behind closed doors sometimes for years, The Wine of Angels makes for a very, very good read I d forgotten just how much I enjoyed this novel and I went scurrying back to the shelf to grab the next one, Midwinter of the Spirit, for Recommended for mystery readers who want than just same old same old teensy plot bits revealed here for those who want to know 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 do you want I ask you Oh, and terrific audio performance Seriously, this series is a winner It doesn t fit into any mold other than great Please resist the urge to pigeonhole it into paranormal, mystery, etc., because really I could put this on my fantasy shelf I could practically put it on a literary shelf He is world building in this book If you read it expecting a straight whodunit, I promise you will be disappointed It s so much than that I didn t love the ending, I thought it was a bit abrupt, but it did run to over 600 pages, so I can certainly understand why he chose to end it as he did I m dying to read the rest of this series I believe there are nine so far, or something close This had me totally enthralled, it was creepy and cozy at the same time I know, but it truly was , and I just can t praise it highly enough Loved it 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 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 investigations of The Church of England s self doubting first female exorcist excuse me, deliverance consultant , her teenage daughter Jane, eventual significant other Nick Drake devotee resurgent rock singer and guitarist Lol, and other friends, family, and antagonist The characterization and the Welsh border settings create a rich texture that makes these stories live Merrily s investigations don t always find supernatural explanations and she has yet, as of my readings, to perform a full on exorcism, but instead they explore a world of thin places where the spiritual is always there, just beyond your vision Well, usually beyond your vision.The Wine of Angels is the first in the series although I started with the next book, mistakenly thinking it was the first and introduces many of the characters who will become important throughout the series as well as the black and white town of Ledwardine, which is itself a character in the stories This tale begins with a suicide in an orchard and then follows a trail that exposes deep family secrets and the dark side of this peaceful little town s history.I would highly recommend this series to anyone who likes mysteries and thinks that a touch of the supernatural enhances the tale Rickman should be better known in America there are few who rival his skill at telling compelling stories that draw the reader in with realistic characters and a sense of place. 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 may be for you.As for murder mystery, this is a book which requires patience and devotion Merrily is wishy washy and inept and barely solves anything I was interested in the scenes in which her daughter Jane was in At least they were not so boring.So I am trying to figure why people like this series I am guessing they like the English countryside life stuff, which I do not No Downton Abbey for me I would rather read Stephen King If you don t like King, you might like this book.I will give the next book a try just to see if it does anything with the supernatural aspect If not, end of series for me. 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 character development I really liked several of the characters Merrily, Jane, Lucy, Lol, Gomer Parry Sorry, but every time I read that name, I thought of Gomer Pyle There were some similarities in character, or maybe I just interpreted it that way Phil Rickman was able to entice emotional reactions to the characters A couple had me gagging at their vileness Some I wanted to hug and make a cup of tea for them to help ease their tensions.I really liked the atmosphere of the setting It was dark and foreboding I doubt I ll ever think of an apple orchard in quite the same way again The meld of Paganism and Christianity added to the atmosphere What unnerved me at the beginning of the story was that Merrily, the vicar, frequently used the Lord s name in vain I write it that way for a reason Saying swearing doesn t quite cover the subject Being raised in a Christian home with preachers and missionaries peppered throughout my lineage, I would always cringe when a schoolmate would swear, Jesus or God dammit or okay, I know you get the picture So, to read a vicar, a person of the cloth, swearing in like manner had me cringing again I will say, though, that I rather enjoyed her justification And so begins yet another series I ve already purchased the next book 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 me either Just not my cuppa altogether. 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 and a big rambling vicarage to take care of.So far, so good Unfortunately, her start in the village is not entirely promising When visiting a local event incognito, meant to encourage the fertilisation of the apple trees in the winter, Merrily sees a local man die, though whether deliberate or suicide is unclear.After that, things become decidedly creepier The main apple tree in the village seems to be there for than just producing apples and it appears to bear a grudge The proposal of a play written by celebrated gay playwright Richard Coffey on a 17th century member of the church accused of witchcraft seems to bring nothing but trouble A party by teenager Colette Cassidy leads to her going missing, possibly in the orchard where the apple tree resides As Merrily struggles to find her feet in the parish and the conservative parishioners adjust to a woman priest there is scandal, political shenanigans and a definite sense of unease For there seems to be something going on in the vicarage and the Apple Tree Man seems to be on the rise.In a way, this book has a timeless quality that puts the village of Ledwardine anywhere in rural England in the last 30 years or so The characters are not really anything new lecherous squire, outsiders to the village, bullying teenagers, a dotty old lady with local knowledge, simple local folk anyone who has listened to The Archers BBC radio soap opera, longest running of its type in the world , or seen television programmes such as The Vicar of Dibley a UK comedy series or even Midsomer Murders a UK crime series set in a quaint English village and films such as The Wicker Man or Simon Pegg s Hot Fuzz 2007 knows that one of the basic ideas is that beneath that seemingly calm veneer, that place of tranquillity, there s enough odd people, social climbing, bedhopping and back stabbing to make Beverly Hills 90120 look positively serene Here we have the added twists of a pretty switched on, ex punk priest with a nicotine habit, who also happens to be a single mother and a member of the clergy, and there s just enough of a touch of the supernatural to make Ruth Rendell or Susan Hill readers happy We examine rural upheaval, and the importance of non Christian traditions in a place that has such a close connection to the countryside Beneath the seemingly sunny veneer there is clearly going on in this sleepy village than you can see.As the nights draw in and the shadows grow longer, this is a great atmospheric page turner The characters are so well drawn that you quickly feel to be part of the village itself, and as events become decidedly creepier their consequences become all the important One of the strengths here is Merrily s down to earth nature I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I warmed to Merrily here, and in particular her relationship with her teenage daughter Jane, who keeps Merrily grounded in sensibility is extremely well done, even when she seems to be involved in the unusual events at Ledwardine Such solidly written characterisation helps set the scene for when things become odd, you trust the characters you ve invested in to keep it real or at least as real as you can in a supernatural novel If I had any negatives, it is perhaps a little long in places But this is perhaps to be expected with the introduction of new main characters and a large supporting cast By the end there is a palpable tension that kept the pages turning It s all about the apples.There are twelve other Merrily novels after this one By the conclusion of this one, I can see her being one of the fixtures here, whilst I sit with a warming drink perhaps mulled cider near to the fire, but also glancing into those shadows in the corner just in caseRecommended. 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 for her to relax and take stock, after working in big cities, with all their associated problems Merrily is widowed, her unfaithful and crooked husband, dying in a car accident and leaving her a single mother to teenage daughter, Jane Jane sees her mother being a vicar as something of an embarrassment, but seems willing to try to make the best of things This includes the huge, cold, three storied vicarage a house which immediately fills Merrily with dread.Apart from the discomfort Merrily feels about her new home, she also finds herself immediately thrown into a local dispute Newcomers, the Cassidy s, want to reinstate an ancient village festival and revive the local cider industry The planned festival includes a proposed play about a Seventeenth Century clergyman who was accused of witchcraft and it has invoked local passions both for and against This is part a traditional crime story, but it also has a supernatural feel It involves local traditions, lots of creepy characters and a changing village, with deep shadows from the past that cast their influence over the present I liked many of the characters, including Merrily and Jane, local man Gomer, the eccentric Miss Devenish and former famous musician, Lol Robinson Although the story is somewhat rambling, this suits the setting and I enjoyed being introduced to both the characters and the village of Ledwardine I will certainly be keen to meet Merrily again and wish to continue the series. 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 Th 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 Horrific Murder Is An Age Old Tradition


✈ [PDF / Epub] ✅ The Wine of Angels By Phil Rickman ✸ –
  • Paperback
  • 630 pages
  • The Wine of Angels
  • Phil Rickman
  • English
  • 22 June 2019

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