Juliet McKenna, The Green Man's Foe, Wizard's Tower Press, 2019.
After the success of the first novel in the Green Man series, McKenna comes back to it with another very entertaining instalment.
Daniel Mackmain's boss asks him to go to work on a historic renovation in the Costwolds. He doesn't say no: the Green Man has sent him a dream of the house in question. When he arrives, he finds a mysterious man the Green Man identifies as an enemy. But why, and what is the goal of this man? Dan will have to find out.
The Green Man's Foe is the second in a fantasy series but you could dive into it without having read the first (though I recommend it!). It's one of McKenna's particular strength: she lets you catch up with ease.
For those of you coming back to it, you'll be delighted to know that Dan is back and in fine form, along with all the things that made The Green Man's Heir so entertaining.
McKenna always knows how to draw me in, and this latest novel didn't fail in that regard.
Dan remains quite an interesting character, a simple man in a complex supernatural world, who must navigate old mysteries, strange alliances and ancient threats while trying to do his own job. I have particularly enjoyed the new secondary characters in it: the gruff gamekeeper, the gossiping old neighbour who is a bit of a witch herself, they all add to the depiction of this rural world. We also have new supernatural characters, and old favourites coming back. I was a bit less keen though on the antagonist, mainly because I'd have liked him to be a bit more developed.
The pace is lively and the novel is packed with action. As always, England's woodlands provide a dramatic backdrop to it.
I think it is one of the real strengths of this series, the way McKenna has made these places alive with their ancient folklore and legendary characters, in a move that feels both Victorian and pre-Raphaelite. (Forget the cute fairies, though!)
But the characters aren't escaping the mundane world which is everywhere: from stately homes turned hotels to disinfranchised kids from an estate, the contemporary world and the supernatural world bleed into each other, creating a margin where they intersect and where the battles are waged.
In a sense, the series is an hymn to conservation, with characters who ignore the natural world around them, those who defend it, and those who foul it, literally or metaphorically.
The Green Man's Foe is a great addition to what is becoming a great series. I was entirely caught up in it for a couple of days. It is a must read if you have enjoyed the first one, and a great reason to start on this series if you have missed it.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy but with no obligation attached to review it on The Middle Shelf. Thanks to Cheryl Morgan at Wizard's Tower Press!
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All reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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