#1 Posted 29/12/2009 01:27:15
Phil Rickman is a fairly recent discovery of mine & I can't recommend his work highly enough.
As a big music fan (especially English folk-rock), I was bound to be intrigued by the way that music played an important role in his books. The Merrily Watkins series co-stars a singer/songwriter, Lol Robinson, who is heavily influenced by Nick Drake.
So with references to music I loved as an in, I started on the first of the Merrily Watkins books, 'The Wine Of Angels'. The novel is set in a fictional town on the Welsh border & Rickman has such a way with dialog that I could clearly hear the accents in my head. He has a major talent for concocting three dimensional characters that endear themselves to you within a couple of paragraphs. I would recommend that you put his name into wikepedia for more details.
Having found out that he often has characters from one book, turn up in another, otherwise unrelated book, I decided I wanted to read his work in published order, so the second book I read was Candlenight, his first novel. It wasn't as good as 'The Wine Of Angels', in that I felt he tended to build up certain characters, then all but forget about them when he got more involved in what other characters were doing, but it's still better than most in the supernatural genre & well worth reading.
I just finished his second book, 'Crybbe', & found he'd worked out any structural problems I detected in the first book. It's really good, old school scary stuff. By old school, I mean it doesn't have kung-fu vampires, or flesh-eating zombies & heroes, who face impossible odds, but at least know exactly what they're dealing with. It has undefined supernatural forces & heroes who really have no idea what they're up against, or what to do about it. This book also featured the first appearance of Gomer Parry, who I'd already met in the first Merrily Watkins book & Joe Powys, who also appears in 'The Chalice, which I have yet to read.
Rickman has also written a couple of books as Will Kingdom, & a couple as Thom Madley, which are just as loosely interconnected as all the others.
It is also worth noting that Phil Rickman got together with a band called Hazey Jane II (after a Nick Drake song of the same name)to produce a CD of Lol Robinson songs, released as by Lol Robinson & Hazey Jane II. It's very good. Surprisingly so, but be warned, don't play it before you finish reading 'The Wine Of Angels', because there's a song which gives away which character dies in the book.