Savage Magic
It's 1814 and the streets of London's Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered, all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with no signs of entry. Constable Charles Horton's investigation into these violent crimes begins, quite by chance, at Thorpe Lee House in Surrey, where accusations of witchcraft have swept the village. What connects these broken London men, savage with the pursuit of pleasure, and a country village awash with folklore and talk of burning witches? The answers lie, yet again, under lock and key, in a madhouse for the deranged, where Horton's wife Abigail seeks refuge from her disordered mind. In this world of witchcraft and madhouses, whores and aristocrats, it's a savage magic indeed that holds its victims in its thrall.Lloyd Shepherd's most ambitious novel to date is a triumph of the imagination. His rich cast of characters weaves a hugely satisfying story of depth, insight and exquisite drama.

Savage Magic Details

TitleSavage Magic
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 28th, 2014
PublisherSimon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN-139781471136061
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction, Supernatural

Savage Magic Review

  • Roxana Chirilă
    January 1, 1970
    I came across this book in a discount bookstore and bought it on a whim - I liked the cover, the quality of the paper, the way it felt in my hand. Some time later, I finally got around to reading it and realized it's not the first book in the series. Well, no matter - it's still easy to read if you have no idea what's going on before it. There are some references to stuff going on before, but they don't matter that much.So, what's it about, right?In 1814, a constable's wife keeps having strange I came across this book in a discount bookstore and bought it on a whim - I liked the cover, the quality of the paper, the way it felt in my hand. Some time later, I finally got around to reading it and realized it's not the first book in the series. Well, no matter - it's still easy to read if you have no idea what's going on before it. There are some references to stuff going on before, but they don't matter that much.So, what's it about, right?In 1814, a constable's wife keeps having strange visions of a woman, and runs away to the madhouse to get help. Meanwhile, sons of high nobility keep getting murdered behind closed doors, and strange things are going on at a house not far away from London and the locals suspect witchcraft. I liked the story, which was mysterious and well-built, following several plots and different points of view, which I generally enjoy, but I didn't particularly care for the style. It was a bit too dry, imitating older books, but not quite managing it, as far as I'm concerned (I was also a bit unconvinced by its being told in the present tense). All in all, decent, but I don't think I'll be reading the others in the series.
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  • Essie Fox
    January 1, 1970
    MASTER OF MALEFICIUM - Review of Savage Magic by Lloyd ShepherdThis is Lloyd Shepherd’s third novel and although it stands entirely alone, in many ways it also relates back to his previous novels, The English Monster, and The Poisoned Island. There are recurring characters in the investigator Charles Horton and the magistrate Aaron Graham, with both of them again employed in solving a criminal mystery linked to certain people (or substances) imported onto English soil at the start of the ninetee MASTER OF MALEFICIUM - Review of Savage Magic by Lloyd ShepherdThis is Lloyd Shepherd’s third novel and although it stands entirely alone, in many ways it also relates back to his previous novels, The English Monster, and The Poisoned Island. There are recurring characters in the investigator Charles Horton and the magistrate Aaron Graham, with both of them again employed in solving a criminal mystery linked to certain people (or substances) imported onto English soil at the start of the nineteenth century. But here in Savage Magic both men are also forced to come to terms with having lost their wives, albeit for quite different reasons.It is through Charles’ wife, Abigail Horton, that Savage Magic really moves on from Shepherd’s previous novels, with the fragile but intelligent woman tormented by voices in her head, which lead her to voluntarily admitting herself to a private asylum. What happens to Abigail in the asylum, not to mention her fellow inmates and doctor, is the pivot upon which this mystery spins - and how it spins and twists and turns, whirling the reader through vivid descriptions of London streets mired deep in filth - the literal filth underfoot, but also the evils of prostitution; a vice which is sympathetically drawn to show how it conjured up a sort of madness all its own, and one into which many women had no choice but to join if they were to survive. From there we are led into privileged homes in country houses in the shires where witchcraft may - or may not - be taking a pernicious hold. We view portly rakes in the fashionable garb of long gowns ornamented with astronomical symbols more usually linked to the magic of wizards. We are introduced to a secret club where aristocratic men disguised in the masks of satyrs indulge their sordid appetites when engaging women of the night. However, when the debauchers begin to die in hideous ways - even murdered in the safety of their own homes when all entries and exits are guarded and none can break in or escape unseen - the plot and motive thickens more.This is a beautifully written novel. It is also a very clever one, full of complexity and wit, with many nods at real events, people and practices of the time. Lloyd Shepherd has a magical way with words well-suited to his story’s themes of witchcraft, illusion, madness and vice. And just as one minor character at the very start of the novel peers through his eyeglass to focus on the evils soon to infect these shores, so Shepherd focuses his sights - moving in, and in, and in again until the darkness at the core of this novel can be exorcised.I received this novel as a pre publication proof from the publishers, Simon & Schuster, UK.
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  • Karen Mace
    January 1, 1970
    Picked this up on a whim from the library as I was intrigued by the cover and blurb! More like a 3.5 rating than a 3!Never read anything by the author before and found his style of writing to be fascinating as he combines crime with a supernatural twist, and really seemed to capture the essence of the time as it was set in 1814 in London, and you did get the dark feel of the seedier side of London life.The fascinating aspect of the gruesome murders was a big pull of the book for me - all the vic Picked this up on a whim from the library as I was intrigued by the cover and blurb! More like a 3.5 rating than a 3!Never read anything by the author before and found his style of writing to be fascinating as he combines crime with a supernatural twist, and really seemed to capture the essence of the time as it was set in 1814 in London, and you did get the dark feel of the seedier side of London life.The fascinating aspect of the gruesome murders was a big pull of the book for me - all the victims are found wearing masks behind locked doors and with no sign of entry - and with the addition of witchcraft it added a darker twist. Also enjoyed the insights into the madhouse and all the witchcraft talk of the time that seemed to obsess and terrify so manyDid find it a little long at times but it did keep my interest and I look forward to reading more from this author
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  • Grace
    January 1, 1970
    Murder, witchcraft, secret societies. This novel has all of this, plus transportation and mad houses.This is the first Lloyd Shepherd book i have read and i will be looking into his others.He captures dark and dingy 1800's London wonderfully and his characters are interesting and well rounded.The story is entrancing and fast paced.A good, solid historical crime novel.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    I have to say that I do love Mr Shepherd’s writing – it has a dark, atmospheric brooding quality to it that I have not found elsewhere and it never fails to leave me affected, usually jumping at shadows for a while. This, like his previous novels, is part of an ongoing mythology involving Constable Charles Horton, but all are standalone novels in their own right so you can pick up any of them and have a terrific reading experience.In this story, our hero is drawn into a world of suspected magic I have to say that I do love Mr Shepherd’s writing – it has a dark, atmospheric brooding quality to it that I have not found elsewhere and it never fails to leave me affected, usually jumping at shadows for a while. This, like his previous novels, is part of an ongoing mythology involving Constable Charles Horton, but all are standalone novels in their own right so you can pick up any of them and have a terrific reading experience.In this story, our hero is drawn into a world of suspected magic and mayhem, as he investigates a house in the country where rumours of witchcraft abound – whilst back in London, a series of baffling murders is taking place. The answers may well lie within an insane asylum where Horton’s wife currently resides, battling her inner demons.This is an excellent multi stranded story – definitely my favourite so far – it is creepy, unsettling and often horrifying whilst at the same time being strangely fascinating. I was enthralled by the thread of the tale that dealt with the treatment of mental illness, especially as the author has pulled off a difficult feat here by managing to mix the scientific with the mysterious yet still making it all seem perfectly possible. Very intriguing indeed.I love the characters, was very fond of Abigail Horton especially and the story ebbs and flows between practical and magic with a deft hand that will have you changing your mind page by page as to what exactly is going on. Some extremely intelligent plotting and a lovely lilt to the flow of the prose will keep you immersed in the tale and overall this really is a most enthralling read.If you like a novel that makes you look at the world around you in a different way for a while then this is definitely for you.Happy Reading Folks!
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  • Kate Mayfield
    January 1, 1970
    A Bewitching RideI'd only just read Lloyd Shepherd's excellent The Poisoned Island when I was fortunate enough to receive a galley of Savage Magic. I feel I've been binging, in the nicest possible way, on a box set and have been on the Marvellously Murderous Mystery Tour.It is not necessary to read Shepherd's previous novels The English Monster and The Poisoned Island before delving into Savage Magic, as each stands completely on its own, but why the devil wouldn't you - especially if you are a A Bewitching RideI'd only just read Lloyd Shepherd's excellent The Poisoned Island when I was fortunate enough to receive a galley of Savage Magic. I feel I've been binging, in the nicest possible way, on a box set and have been on the Marvellously Murderous Mystery Tour.It is not necessary to read Shepherd's previous novels The English Monster and The Poisoned Island before delving into Savage Magic, as each stands completely on its own, but why the devil wouldn't you - especially if you are a fan of thrilling historical fiction and enjoy the forceful, edgy slant this author brings to his work.In Savage Magic his Constable Charles Horton has risen to the cry of witchcraft and decamped to a country house in Surrey where the village people are swimming in folklore and where Horton must unravel the mysteries of the inhabitants of Thorpe Lee House. Simultaneously in the Covent Garden terrain of pimps and prostitution, brutal murders are committed and each aristocratic victim wears the mask of the satyr.Horton's wife Abigail takes a more central role in this tale and has fled to a Hackney madhouse where in desperation she hopes to banish from her mind the native lady who has possessed her dreams, only to be imprisoned at the side of an inmate who seems to control the minds of anyone she chooses.It is a sweeping and engaging tale and Shepherd has a firm hold of his story and his distinctive characters. He writes sympathetically and sensitively of prostitution, madness, murder and witchcraft, and somehow, reigns it all in to a satisfying climax.
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  • Becky Wright
    January 1, 1970
    Savage Magic is my first Lloyd Shepherd novel, although I realised there's two previous books in the series. Not a great problem as all stand alone stories. I was captured very quickly with Shepherd's poetic prose. He has a clear ability of painting the surrounding, characters with all the aithentic dark seedy atmosphere of early nineteenth century London. A strong supernatural element carries the otherwise gritty detective mystery through; as it cleverly unfolds. However, I found the concluding Savage Magic is my first Lloyd Shepherd novel, although I realised there's two previous books in the series. Not a great problem as all stand alone stories. I was captured very quickly with Shepherd's poetic prose. He has a clear ability of painting the surrounding, characters with all the aithentic dark seedy atmosphere of early nineteenth century London. A strong supernatural element carries the otherwise gritty detective mystery through; as it cleverly unfolds. However, I found the concluding final chapters slightly dissapointing and felt a little robbed of a great ending. All lose ends tied up but a little lacklustre. Generally a really captivating read and looking forward to reading Shepherd's others.
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  • Thomas Gizbert
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted on Time Thy Pyramids.You don't see many historical novels written in the present tense. There's three reasons for this. Firstly, novels have really only been written in the present tense for the past few decades, so if you're writing one that's supposed to be aping the style of the time (as this one does, badly), writing it in the present tense is an immediate barrier to that. Secondly, it's weird that the action has already happened a long time ago, but is also happening now. Originally posted on Time Thy Pyramids.You don't see many historical novels written in the present tense. There's three reasons for this. Firstly, novels have really only been written in the present tense for the past few decades, so if you're writing one that's supposed to be aping the style of the time (as this one does, badly), writing it in the present tense is an immediate barrier to that. Secondly, it's weird that the action has already happened a long time ago, but is also happening now. It's a strange and alienating paradox.And thirdly, it's can just be a bit clunky at the best of times. Authors like Hilary Mantel have justified it by saying that it brings the past into the present, and that it captures "the jitter and flux of events, the texture of them, their ungraspable speed". And, yeah, I didn't like Wolf Hall, but I can appreciate the beautiful writing and how the present tense worked well as part of that style. In Savage Magic it just sounds like this:  He asks after Sir Henry, and is told that the master of the house is up in London and has been for some weeks. Mrs Graham expresses some satisfactions that this is so as they sit down. That just sounds clangy to me. I have trouble even picturing what's going on here. Plus how exactly has Mrs Graham, Charles Horton's social superior, expressed her satisfaction that Sir Henry, her cousin and lover, is away? That's a real minefield of a social situation, and emblematic of Shepherd's really sketchy worldbuilding.And the writing is altogether generally sloppy, as if there wasn't much thought put into it. For example, do we really think that Aaron Graham has "heard good things" about the Hoxton madhouse? He makes a note to visit Brooke House when he can, and perhaps even to consider placing Abigail in another institution - the Hoxton madhouse, perhaps, of which he has heard good things. And can anyone picture this woman? She is, by Horton's reckoning, over fifty years old. She wears clothes which once must have been respectable but which are now threadbare, although care has obviously been taken to maintain their dignity to the extent that such a thing is possible. Her grey hair is almost bald in places, and two or three ugly warts molest her face. But when she speaks out to him, her voice is warm and kind. Plus did Shepherd just say that her clothes have dignity and that her hair is bald? This reads like it was sleep-written. He also drops in little bits of post-modern-ish anachronisms which are probably supposed to be funny: Still the subject of what took place in Maria's cell the day before is not mentioned explicitly. It is a huge creature - an elephant, perhaps - that sits in the room beside them, about which neither is allowed to talk. Or crazy switches in viewpoint: And so, Charles Horton, you find yourself on a country lane face-to-face with a witch. What does one say in such a situation? These would almost maybe work as humorous counterpoints in a novel that was better at aping the style of early-1800s literature, and that painted a complete and coherent picture of a dark and mysterious Regency-era London. Savage Magic, however, falls flat when it comes to describing its world, sketching out its locations, characters, and social issues with the lightest of tones, and keeping them free of the interesting details that would make them interesting to read about. The only evocative element is the setting of Brooke House - Shepherd did his research here, and it shows. It's the scenes in this asylum, particularly the converted chapel, that are the most vividly imagined.Very occasionally, too, the writing gets good and we're treated with a flash of insightful characterisation or clever humour which shows the heights to which Savage Magic could have risen: Sir Henry Tempest stands in front of his portrait with, Horton presumes, no satirical intent. But the juxtaposition of the idealised portrayal with the fat, angry and contemptuous reality is too stark to be ignored. Horton, after a mere three minutes with Sir Henry, thinks he can picture a small army of servants stood here where he is now, inwardly smirking at how far the real man falls from the man in oils up there on the wall. It's a pity then that most of the novel is as reductive, inane, and ridiculous as this actual quote that one of the characters actually says to another: 'Hold your tongue, trollop. And tell me where Talty is, lest you spend the rest of this night in the watch house.' I think there must be a reference work somewhere that states that if you want your novel to sound 'period', you should have your characters tell each other to hold your tongue, call each other trollop, say lest, whilst, and amongst instead of unless, while, and among, threaten each other with extended stays in the watch house, and refer to units of time with the pronoun this (this day instead of today, this night instead of the night, this hour... well you get the idea). And that you should call one of them Talty.I haven't said much about the plot, partly because there's not much to say about the plot. It's a many-stranded, multi-viewpoint narrative which follows Charles Horton's investigations into witchcraft allegations at a manor just inside the M25, his wife's self-imposed incarceration in a lunatic asylum, and his colleague's investigation into multiple gory murders in the West End. They all come together in the end, through some hand-wavey explanations about magic, though the reader - like all the characters - is likely to be left none-the-wiser. Even the epiphanies of the detective-type characters amount to little more than "I get it now! It makes no logical sense!" Sigh. And I had such high hopes.I've not read the first two in the series, so maybe that would have changed my perception of this book slightly. But I can't imagine they'd be that different. I won't be reading any more of them and I can't recommend that anyone else should.
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  • WaterstonesBirmingham
    January 1, 1970
    Murder, witchcraft, secret societies. This novel has all of this and more.This is the first Lloyd Shepherd book i have read and i will be looking into his others.He captures dark and dingy 1800's London wonderfully and his characters are interesting and well rounded.The story is entrancing and fast paced.A good, solid historical crime novel.Grace
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    I'm catching up on my reviews and sometimes its good to judge from a distance. in hindsight this was all rather silly and unworthwhile.
  • Snogged
    January 1, 1970
    Savage Magic is actually the 3rd book in the Charles Horton series, but it is one that can stand alone from its predecessors. I picked up the book about a year or so ago at a Half-Priced books because the cover and description caught my attention.As the stars indicate, the story was just okay. It's a novel set in the 1800's, but it's written in the present tense. There were times where the plotting felt clunky and it didn't really have the pace that I tend to look for in a mystery-suspense novel Savage Magic is actually the 3rd book in the Charles Horton series, but it is one that can stand alone from its predecessors. I picked up the book about a year or so ago at a Half-Priced books because the cover and description caught my attention.As the stars indicate, the story was just okay. It's a novel set in the 1800's, but it's written in the present tense. There were times where the plotting felt clunky and it didn't really have the pace that I tend to look for in a mystery-suspense novel. I do think the plot had potential though (i.e. murder mystery involving a woman in the madhouse and a secret society.) I just didn't enjoy it as much as I had thought I would.
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    Really didn't care for this one. Did not become involved with the characters and their plights. The story line wasn't well summarized on the back so what I got wasn't what I expected. Just not my cup of tea.
  • Julie Round
    January 1, 1970
    A different kind of book - beautifully written, with just enough plot to keep one turning the pages but with characters that belonged in a Hogarthian time. I think I will remember it for longer than a modern novel but it wasn't easy reading.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Very slow moving and found bits of it quite predictable.
  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    I adore this author. I get so lost in his characters.
  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    I was fortunate to win an uncorrected proof of Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd in a competition arranged by the author. This is the edition I'm reviewing and the reason I can do so before the book is published. I've recently read the two previous books of Lloyd Shepherd - The English Monster and The Poisoned Island, and this is the third book in the series. It's august 1814 (exactly 200 years before the publication month of Savage Magic), we're back in London, and Abigail Horton is being admitted I was fortunate to win an uncorrected proof of Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd in a competition arranged by the author. This is the edition I'm reviewing and the reason I can do so before the book is published. I've recently read the two previous books of Lloyd Shepherd - The English Monster and The Poisoned Island, and this is the third book in the series. It's august 1814 (exactly 200 years before the publication month of Savage Magic), we're back in London, and Abigail Horton is being admitted to a private madhouse as a direct consequence of the events in the previous book. In 19h century England it was possible to pay to have your wife or daughter locked away in a madhouse, rather convenient at times, but it is not her husband, constable Charles Horton of the River Police, who has admitted Abigail, it is Abigail herself, fearing for her own sanity. Charles is not allowed to visit or write and is devastated by her absence and his guilt about the turn of events, but he is also reluctant to act against her wishes and pull her out of there. It is in this state the always well dressed magistrate Aaron Graham finds him when he pays him a visit. Horton is not particularly fond of Graham, but they find a sort of common ground for awhile, since Grahams own domestic happiness has been scattered when his wife left him for her cousin Sir Henry Tempest. His wife has now contacted him with disturbing tales sounding like something straight out of a madhouse as well. Mrs. Graham believes her new home in Surrey to be under the spell of witchcraft. If there is something Graham and Horton actually can agree about, it's that the inexplicable can take place, even if the british government recently has decided maleficium doesn't exist (any longer), and Graham sends Horton off to investigate the strange events. Hardly is Horton away before a high standing member of society is found murdered in his bedroom, with a satyr mask on his face and his gut cut open. He turns out to be the first of a line of gentlemen brutally murdered and before long Graham finds himself struggeling not only with motive but also opportunity, almost regretting sending Horton away. Horton himself has his hands full in an unsettled, haunted household and a village more than willing to believe in witchcraft still taking place. As in the previous books there are sea voyages involved, also of the kind off to exotic places far away with purpose and cargo of a not so pleasant kind. This time we get a peek into the transportations of english convicts to Australia, and strongly connected to this the struggle of the poor Londoners, especially the women of London turning to thievery and prostitution. There are a lot of threads to be woven together and Horton struggles with the logic of it all, or rather apparent lack of it. Besides from Horton we follow Abigail in the madhouse, Aaron Graham in the middle of the murder investigations, and a few other characters whom I will not give away here. The story line runs smoothly between the characters and the events they are part of, and slowly knits it all together. For me this has a well-balanced blend of historical fiction, mystery, gothic feeling and well tuned, interesting characters and reads quite like a classic gothic novel. The writing is excellent and the author has a talent for dry humor and for describing small details about the characters in a way that pinpoints their personalities. If you enjoyed the other books by Lloyd Shepherd this one is also for you, they only get better as we move along, so pick it up and let him once more get inside your head for a while.
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  • KL Caley
    January 1, 1970
    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 poli 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.SummaryThe 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.
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  • Kris
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this one. I haven't read the first two in the series and I didn't feel like I was missing anything.I enjoyed following the story from the perspectives of different characters, which were well written. The story itself wasn't particularly thrilling, but I was invested enough to keep going and I finished this quite quickly. I'm not in a rush to pick the fourth one up (and I am probably not going to bother with the first and second one) but should it fall into my hands at some point then I I liked this one. I haven't read the first two in the series and I didn't feel like I was missing anything.I enjoyed following the story from the perspectives of different characters, which were well written. The story itself wasn't particularly thrilling, but I was invested enough to keep going and I finished this quite quickly. I'm not in a rush to pick the fourth one up (and I am probably not going to bother with the first and second one) but should it fall into my hands at some point then I am not going to complain.
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  • Bibliophile
    January 1, 1970
    Constable Horton is back, somewhat frayed around the edges, but as stubborn as ever when it comes to solving supernatural crimes. After the events of the previous novel, The Poisoned Island, his wife Abigail has been committed to a very strange madhouse, where she passes the time reading A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to an agitated fellow inmate, with good results (Mary Wollstonecraft, keeping women sane since 1792!). Meanwhile, Horton is ordered by Magistrate Graham to investigate some s Constable Horton is back, somewhat frayed around the edges, but as stubborn as ever when it comes to solving supernatural crimes. After the events of the previous novel, The Poisoned Island, his wife Abigail has been committed to a very strange madhouse, where she passes the time reading A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to an agitated fellow inmate, with good results (Mary Wollstonecraft, keeping women sane since 1792!). Meanwhile, Horton is ordered by Magistrate Graham to investigate some suspected witchery in a different sort of madhouse, the country home of Sir Henry Thorpe (Graham's wife also happens to have left him for Thorpe). Simultaneously, lords, dukes and viscounts are being brutally murdered in their bedchambers all over London. Not to worry, they're all misogynist hounds and had a good old time while they were alive, so no need to shed tears. The weird occurrences in the insane asylum, the mischief in Sir Henry's house and the vicious killings in London all seem to somehow be connected to a mysterious woman, newly arrived from an Australian penal colony. People routinely call her a witch (these days they'd just call her a feminazi), and it's amazing how Shepherd manages to keep the tension high all the way through despite these blatant clues. The plot is admirably structured. The separate investigations performed by Horton, Mrs Horton and Graham are carefully tied together, and there are some very spooky moments. The previous novels were sadly lacking in female characters (Abigail had a small role only), but this time we get a fullblown feminist revenge story with numerous lady characters who make an impression. I love this series and am sorry to see there aren't more ratings for it on GR. Do read it, everyone, but start with the first in the series. It's pure, delicious fun.
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  • Janette Fleming
    January 1, 1970
    It's 1814 and the streets of London's Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered, all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with no signs of entry. Constable Charles Horton's investigation into these violent crimes begins, quite by chance, at Thorpe Lee House in Surrey It's 1814 and the streets of London's Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered, all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with no signs of entry. Constable Charles Horton's investigation into these violent crimes begins, quite by chance, at Thorpe Lee House in Surrey, where accusations of witchcraft have swept the village. What connects these broken London men, savage with the pursuit of pleasure, and a country village awash with folklore and talk of burning witches? The answers lie, yet again, under lock and key, in a madhouse for the deranged, where Horton's wife Abigail seeks refuge from her disordered mind. In this world of witchcraft and madhouses, whores and aristocrats, it's a savage magic indeed that holds its victims in its thrall.Lloyd Shepherd's most ambitious novel to date is a triumph of the imagination. His rich cast of characters weaves a hugely satisfying story of depth, insight and exquisite drama.This is the third outing of Constable Charles Horton of the river police and like the two previous books the hint of paranormal shenanigans lend an extra layer of dread to a dark, brooding Gothic tale that that is already filled with sex, death and madness. Intelligent, absorbing and rock solid story telling. Cannot wait to see where the mythos of this series goes next.
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  • Lizzie
    January 1, 1970
    This is more 3.5 stars, but I couldn't quite give it 4 so rounded it down to 3.Holy hell. That was one hell of a ride. This book is one of the hardest books I've ever tried reading. It certainly gave me a challenge, that's for sure.I don't know if it was me or if it was because I was reading small amounts at a time, but it felt like this book took forever to get anywhere. All I can say, is thank goodness I am a person who insists on finishing every book I start, even if it takes forever. The amo This is more 3.5 stars, but I couldn't quite give it 4 so rounded it down to 3.Holy hell. That was one hell of a ride. This book is one of the hardest books I've ever tried reading. It certainly gave me a challenge, that's for sure.I don't know if it was me or if it was because I was reading small amounts at a time, but it felt like this book took forever to get anywhere. All I can say, is thank goodness I am a person who insists on finishing every book I start, even if it takes forever. The amount of times that I almost put it down in the first 200 or so pages were ridiculous. I could not get into this book, try as I would. I found that the chopping and changing between scenes very off putting. I also felt like there was no flow or rhythm to the book. However, I hung in and I kept on reading. And I am so glad that I did.This is a book that will only give up its secrets to someone who wants them bad enough. But once you have unlocked those secrets, it makes everything worthwhile. I finally started to understand; I could see the pattern and everything made sense. Sure, there were parts that I had to re-read a couple times over, but in the end it was worth it.To anyone wanting a challenge when reading, I would definitely recommend. Now to find his other books and see if they're just as challenging.
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  • Brooke Hynch
    January 1, 1970
    OK so I'm officially in "Like" with Constable Horton. I love that he's married, and that he loves and stands by his wife - it's unusual in a detective story..but then this is so much MORE than your average detective story.As this is the 3rd book in the series (yes you could read it as a standalone - but believe me - you don't want to get on this rollercoaster ride 2/3's of the way through! You wanna buy a ticket for the full ride!I loved that the issues with Mrs H were resolved (sort of)...I did OK so I'm officially in "Like" with Constable Horton. I love that he's married, and that he loves and stands by his wife - it's unusual in a detective story..but then this is so much MORE than your average detective story.As this is the 3rd book in the series (yes you could read it as a standalone - but believe me - you don't want to get on this rollercoaster ride 2/3's of the way through! You wanna buy a ticket for the full ride!I loved that the issues with Mrs H were resolved (sort of)...I did NOT love how it took the whole book to resolve them! But it did keep me on the edge of my seat and I think I read this book in two sittings just to see Cons and Mrs H resolve their challenges!The continuing underlying "witchy/supernatural" elements keep this series fresh and help to elevate it beyond it's contemporary brethren.The psychological elements that were added to this novel (as compared to the other two) just added to the complex layering and depth that I appreciate in Lloyd's books.I am afraid though, very afraid for what he might do, in the next novel, to characters I have come to love ! Please Lloyd don't be too hard on them!
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  • Sue Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to love this book! I really did, but sadly I felt very let down by it and by about a third of the way through, it became a chore to finish. It has magic, murder, mystery, all set in a historic setting. So what's not to like? The truth is I can't say for certain.I can only say that it seemed to lack the all important build up to that climactic point where the truth is revealed. It could also be that I guessed the truth behind the plot line from very early on. I'm usually very naive about I wanted to love this book! I really did, but sadly I felt very let down by it and by about a third of the way through, it became a chore to finish. It has magic, murder, mystery, all set in a historic setting. So what's not to like? The truth is I can't say for certain.I can only say that it seemed to lack the all important build up to that climactic point where the truth is revealed. It could also be that I guessed the truth behind the plot line from very early on. I'm usually very naive about these things, and I'm usually the only one who is genuinely surprised by even the flimsiest plot. But even I guessed this one very early on, which somewhat removed the desire to romp though to finish to find out what happens. On the positive side however, the plot was not terrible, it had potential and in my opinion just needed a little bit of tweaking. I enjoyed the descriptions of the streets of London, of the underbelly of 19th century life. I feel this aspect was well written, and gave the book more interest. I just wish however that Shepherd had applied his powers of description to the murder scenes too.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    The novel gives an intriguing overview of the different classes of people in England in the early 1800's - aristocrats, witches, gypsies, prostitutes, doctors, servants - as well as the melting pot of ideas, blending "old" folklore and "new" science, throwing up a maelstrom of conflicting viewpoints and feelings. It's a cleverly woven Whodunnit plot, taking the reader into a fog of confusion and incomprehension, before finally taking him by the hand and leading him out the other side where clues The novel gives an intriguing overview of the different classes of people in England in the early 1800's - aristocrats, witches, gypsies, prostitutes, doctors, servants - as well as the melting pot of ideas, blending "old" folklore and "new" science, throwing up a maelstrom of conflicting viewpoints and feelings. It's a cleverly woven Whodunnit plot, taking the reader into a fog of confusion and incomprehension, before finally taking him by the hand and leading him out the other side where clues start to fit into place and the whole sordid story can be understood in all its glory (and gore !).complete review on my blog : http://madhousefamilyreviews.blogspot...
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  • Stephen Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    The most complex, intriguing and enjoyable of Lloyd Shepherd's 3 novels to date, which all feature Charles Horton, a Wapping river police constable. The evocation of early nineteenth century London - across all social strata - is as masterful as ever. But the development and power of the main recurring characters and in particular Charles and Abigail Horton and Aaron Graham, is at a new level. And with less of the time-shifting of the previous two books (a device that I love across many novels), The most complex, intriguing and enjoyable of Lloyd Shepherd's 3 novels to date, which all feature Charles Horton, a Wapping river police constable. The evocation of early nineteenth century London - across all social strata - is as masterful as ever. But the development and power of the main recurring characters and in particular Charles and Abigail Horton and Aaron Graham, is at a new level. And with less of the time-shifting of the previous two books (a device that I love across many novels), the mystery and (possibly!) supernatural elements become even more powerfully and effectively harnessed within the core story.
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  • Liz Smith
    January 1, 1970
    You can smell the streets of Georgian era Covent Garden and Wapping in this book, and it's not a nice smell. One of the things I have liked about all of Lloyd Shepherd's books is his ability to bring to life a period in London, and Britain's history, that you don't often read about. Some of the places and characters existed in real life around which he weaves a magical plot line that is a page turner. My favourite character is the rather gruff detective Horton who is one of the first detectives You can smell the streets of Georgian era Covent Garden and Wapping in this book, and it's not a nice smell. One of the things I have liked about all of Lloyd Shepherd's books is his ability to bring to life a period in London, and Britain's history, that you don't often read about. Some of the places and characters existed in real life around which he weaves a magical plot line that is a page turner. My favourite character is the rather gruff detective Horton who is one of the first detectives to consider "motive" when investigating a murder.
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  • Sue Yockney
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed this third novel featuring Charles Horton, a constable who works for the River Police Office in Wapping in the early part of the 19th century. It's edgy and dark and full of atmospheric and evocative descriptions but never at the expense of a pacy, gripping plotline. The reader is led through a world of witchcraft and madhouses, whores and aristocrats until the different plot strands come together in a satisfying and gothic finale.
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  • Ros Burrage
    January 1, 1970
    I love this series of books. This 3rd one is no less spellbinding than the last 2. Mixing real lives with magic and intrigue, culminating into a rich tale of murder most foul. I look forward to Lloyd Shepherd's next book with relish.
  • Jeanne
    January 1, 1970
    I really like this author's writing and this book was no exception. It is eerie and reeks of the paranormal which is not my usual genre, but I liked it. The only criticism I have of this book is that I think it could have been shortened a bit. Many of the scenes and issues seemed a bit redundant.
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  • Laura Brown
    January 1, 1970
    The worst book iv read this year! A waste of time, no real plot or answer to anything.
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