Juliet McKenna, The Green Man's Gift, Wizard's Tower Press, 2022.
Dan Mackmain is back for the fifth adventure in this contemporary rural fantasy series.
A supernatural creature is abducting young men in North Wales and turn them into playthings before discarding them. Dan, supported by the newly-founded network of wise women and swan maidens, dryads and naiads, goes to inquire.
Please note the review contains spoilers for the previous Green Man stories.
My previous reviews: The Green Man's Heir, The Green Man's Foe, The Green Man's Challenge.
It is always a pleasure to meet Dan again. The series keeps on doing what made its success: a stand-alone story set in contemporary rural Britain with characters who come alive.
More than once, you'll find yourself saying "Come on, Dan! Don't be daft! Don't go in there!" but it's also very nice to see his relationship with Fin evolving. The network that the characters created in The Green Man's Challenge plays its role in this volume. They begin working as a team, and at one point, with epic effects. It also offers us more time with beloved secondary characters. We also meet new people, and I particularly enjoyed Aled, a Welsh man whose ancestor was a coblyn.
One thing I love is how McKenna seamlessly weaves our world and its issues with the treasure trove that British folklore is. She starts strong by alluding to the NHS cuts and the raw sewage being pumped into rivers. Awful realities create a backdrop which has repercussions for the characters while they're dealing with a supermatural threat.
The spotlight in the Green Man's Gift is on Welsh folklore, and it's linked wonderfully with Wales industrial past and how the country turns to tourism nowadays.
Those links between past and present, between the earth and the people who inhabit it, between myths and contemporary life, are without a doubt one of the greatest strengths of this series.
Although The Green Man's Gift starts slow, it builds up to dramatic actions. Two pivotal events happen afar or are told instead of directly witnessed, because it's also a story of justice and revenge and McKenna, in a bold choice, gives agency to the victims instead of the hero. Maybe this is because Dan isn't a hero after all. Just an almost ordinary bloke who's doing what's right. And this is very refreshing!
Nonetheless, we've got again tantalising hints of things to come, and I look forward to finding out where we're heading to.
If you've enjoyed the previous Green Man books, then you'll enjoy this one without a doubt. If you haven't read them yet... What are you waiting for?
Disclaimer: a free copy was received but with no obligation attached to review it.
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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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