I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.
Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth -- that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.
But if she is to have her voice heard, she's going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies...
Read to fill the “Witches” square for 2107 Halloween Bingo.
Paul Cornell writes looming, disastrous & supernatural really, really well (see also London Falling which shares this spooky ambiance). This is a short novel—I was trying to read it while simultaneously cooking supper on Saturday evening, and I was resenting every time I had to set it down to go check on the pots on the stove!
For something so short, there is a remarkable amount of complexity. I seem to be reading a lot of fiction set in small towns recently—but they really do make the perfect setting for these tales that require people to know one another well in order for the plot line to make such good sense. The coming of a big mega-store to a city would be completely unremarkable, but it causes roiling tensions in the little village of Lychford! And few of the denizens of Lychford can see that there are malevolent supernatural intentions behind the behemoth super store.
Three unlikely women are brought together to combat the supernatural: the local cranky old lady, the new female pastor, and the owner of the pagan/occult store. The latter two have a history that they must overcome—they were besties years ago, but had a falling out that neither of them truly understood and they must sort through the misunderstandings to see if they can cooperate in the current situation.
I must say that Cornell writes women very well. I felt like I could relate to all three exceptionally well. They all are facing a loss in their lives, challenges to whichever faith they espoused, difficulties in reaching out to others. Throw into the mix some dark Fae, a favourite additive for me and give it all an only-somewhat resolved ending, and this was just what I like in my fantasy novels!
I only hope that I have what it takes to become Judith as I approach her stage in life.