BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: Spectred Isle


Title: Spectred Isle (Green Men Book One)

Publisher: KJC Books

Author: KJ Charles

Pages: 252 pp

Price: $10.99 (paperback) / $3.99 (ebook)

The war is over, and now the real work begins. The War Beneath the War left Great Britain's magical families devastated, and Randolph Glyde scrambling to hold together the tattered threads of the Veil. As he races from one hot spot to another, he keeps running into Saul Lazenby. A disgraced veteran and archaeologist, Lazenby has only been able to find employment with Major Peabody, a quirky old man on a quest for occult secrets. Secrets Glyde will do anything to protect. There is more to Lazenby then either man realizes, though, and he soon finds himself caught up in Glyde's dangerous world, answering a destiny he never expected or wanted ....

Whenever anyone asks me for a Pagan-friendly, paranormal romance recommendation, Charles' The Magpie Lord is always at or near the top of my list. I adore The Magpie Lord.

I love Spectred Isle.

The characters are scarred and flawed and so brave that they break your heart. The magic is subtle and frightening. The monsters are horrifying. The fate of the world is at stake, and it comes down to two men who must learn to trust one another and -- just as importantly -- themselves.

The Pagan part comes in with the foundational folklore and occult history. Charles works in everything from Camelot to fen-grendels, from genius loci to green men, from the Saaamaaa Ritual to Wayland's words (for which Glyde endured a nine day ordeal), from the Knights Templar to cloutie trees and healing wells. As Glyde explains at one point:

"There is the Green Man, the stone decoration. There is the Jack in the Green, the country custom of dressing up in foliage. And there is more. There is the face in the woods, the laughter in the trees, the spirit of old England and an older land before the name. The land of Wayland Smith, the maker, the word-giver. .... He was not a kindly god. There is nothing kindly about the old land, at all, but there have been Green Men -- that is, people who work with the land and are permitted to borrow a little of its power -- for as long as anyone knows and doubtless longer." (p148-149) 

Spectred Isle is the first in a trilogy, each focusing on a different pair of Green Men. The next book, Last Couple in Hell, promises to be even more Pagan-y, as it focuses on a ghost hunter and a "not-exactly-goddess" who must embrace her divine destiny.

I can't wait.

Highly recommended to fans of Charles' previous books, as well as Jordan L. Hawk, Rhys Ford, Zoe Archer, Jolene Dawe, and well as anyone with an interest in British folklore.


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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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