Juliet McKenna, The Green Man's Quarry, Wizard's Press Tower, 2023.
Welcome to your yearly review of the latest instalment in the Green Man series by Juliet McKenna!
My previous reviews: The Green Man's Heir, The Green Man's Foe, The Green Man's Challenge, The Green Man's Gift.
A big cat is killing bad people. Except it's not just a big cat. It's a big supernatural cat. Dan and his friends must intervene quickly before the mundane police gets involved and the secrets of the supernatural world are revealed.
Meeting the characters again is a bit like meeting old friends. Since The Green Man's Challenge, McKenna has worked towards creating a network among her characters and it's now fully operational. The story may be told from Dan's point of view, but he's part of a team. This shift from the traditional lone hero is always welcome as far as I'm concerned. It's realistic--hence completely in line in this series of very grounded novels. It gives McKenna plenty of characters to play with--I particularly enjoy Eleanor and Hazel who both have their time to shine in The Green Man's Quarry, and Fin is growing on me. It also allows for a novel that can jump around Britain without too far-fetched coincidences--because someone always knows someone who saw something.
Nonetheless, Dan is also very much the focus as he's facing a development of his abilities. Those are closely linked to the plot, but they also seem ominous considering an unlikely supernatural pairing appearing in the novel--something big this way may come.
It shoud be noted though that The Green Man's Quarry may not be the best entry point now that many characters and their relationships are established, so I'd advise to going back to an earlier point to fully enjoy that aspect of the novel.
Our world's issues blend with the plot as always, this time taking us across the Scottish border and hint at a past that wouldn't be out of place in a Tartan Noir novel.
The vigilante theme in The Green Man's Quarry is dealt with realistically and without any of the glorification you might find in other novels, something I appreciated. It also emphasised how rich and complex McKenna's world is. Actions have consequences and unintended ripples that threaten secrets and long established status quo.
It was interesting to see it in conjunction with a sub-plot about a busybody at Blithehurst. The way people appropriate the life of others' as if it were a public debate upon which they can pass judgements or discuss at length has always existed--as people who grew up or lived in a village can attest--but the border between the public and the personal has now become porous for everybody--stars or anonymous, living in a city or in a remote corner of the map. McKenna deals swiftly with her subplot, but when examined with the big cat threat and the entitlement of passing judgements and carrying death sentences, it becomes chilling.
Last but not least, the theme of cooperation is front, right and centre in the novel. In no uncertain terms, McKenna states that we are stronger together and that talking to an estranged not-an-enemy-but-who-knows is always better than letting silence be filled with lies and misunderstandings.
When you reach the fifth instalment in this series of stand alone fantasy novels, you know what you step into when opening the book with anticipated pleasure. This is very much The Green Man's Quarry: you know there'll be a challenge linked to the supernatural world to solve for Dan and the gang, that Dan will call someone a bastard, and that you'll have a bloody good time!
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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