I’ve seen Juliet E McKenna speak at cons and various events around Bristol since 2006 or thereabouts. Every time I am more impressed by her than the last, and I think “I really have to start reading her books”. Her output is mainly epic fantasy which isn’t really my thing, but when I heard that she had written an urban fantasy/folk horror number, I decided the universe had sent me a message and grabbed a copy straight away.
Daniel Mackmain is a carpenter who doesn’t like to stay in one place for more than a few months. He is also the son of a dryad mother and human father. One day he is gathering wood for carving in the Peak District and meets a dryad (he’s never met one besides his mum). Shortly after a young woman is killed in the same place. Having been in the area at the time, the police are looking at Daniel’s movements very closely. It soon becomes apparent to him that the murder has something to do with the supernatural world that he comes from, and that only he can solve it. He just needs to find some other folkloric entities to help him expunge an ancient evil from the land, while avoiding the attention of the police.
The very existence of this book ticks most of my boxes, but this isn’t just another supernatural detective story. It’s really well written, excellently plotted and paced. McKenna fuses the amateur detective format with the myths and folklore of Britain beautifully. There aren’t any elements here one hasn’t seen before, but the way they are put together is a real treat.
Also, this book very much makes one glad that boggarts aren’t a real thing. Thoroughly nasty little creatures.
Very much recommended, and you should absolutely make space for the paper edition – the cover art is gorgeous.