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Philip K Jones aka The Ill Dressed Vagabond Reviews A Case of Witchcraft – A Novel of Sherlock Holmes

Last month the Sherlock Holmes Society of London described A Case of Witchcraft as “well written and thoroughly researched”. This month it is the turn of Philip K Jones (aka The Ill Dressed Vagabond) with a very detailed review. Phil’s own first book – The Punishment of Sherlock Holmes is out soon.

This novel is a first person narration by Sherlock Holmes.  Dr. Watson is laid up as the result of an Operation to remove the Jezail bullet he had carried since his Service in Afghanistan.  The daughter of a clergyman has asked Holmes to investigate the disappearance of her father on one of the Scottish North Sea islands.  As the object of the Reverend’s investigation was one of three main source tales for the traditional Cinderella story, one that involved witchcraft and had been denounced by the Established Church, his daughter believed that he might have been taken by devotees of the Mother Goddess for use as a sacrifice at the upcoming Halloween celebrations.  Holmes agrees to investigate and sets out for the North coast of Scotland.

On the northbound train he falls in with the young Aleister Crowley and their discussions of Witchcraft, Eastern religions and Holmes’ case lead Crowley to offer his services as companion/bodyguard to Holmes for the duration of his investigation.  Their discussions make the Author’s Historical points by citing examples but they avoid giving a general summary of the details available about the World’s oldest surviving Religion.  The events that triggered this particular ‘Ur-Cinderella’ variant seem to have occurred in Viking times and to have taken place on an island later noted as a source of ‘Witches.’

My own acquaintance with what is now called Wicca and its history assure me that its origins go back to and, possibly, before  the Neolithic Age.  I still recall first reading Robert Graves’ “Hercules, My Shipmate” and  my astonishment at the Priestesses of The Mother Goddess parching next year’s seed grain in a dispute with the Priests of the local Thunder God.  The God’s reply was traditional, as, in visions to his priests, he encouraged the men to go a-raiding to find loot to buy food.  Mr. Revill’s characters cite elements of various worship systems across Eurasia that seem to echo worship of the Mother Goddess.  In fact, the same tenets remain with us to this day cloaked in the guise of “green” practices with all of the ‘religious’ elements removed, except, perhaps, the ardor.

Holmes, in this book, uses a prose style that is spare and simple.  It is not the same voice that we hear in The Canon when Holmes is dictating.  It is possible that difference from the Canon might well be due to the efforts of the Literary Agent on the Canon.  In any case, this Holmes is inclined to discuss philosophy and his personal views much more than in previous publications.  He is also less prone to descriptions and to pontificating and belittling the efforts of the police.  Maybe it is the presence of Crowley, a public non-Christian, who would not be offended by Holmes’ Atheism following his studies in Tibet that encourages Holmes to open his thoughts more to his audience.  Watson, of course, would have been shocked to the core of his Established Church soul.

Perhaps the most singular feature of this book is its interesting characters.  All of the people depicted present strong and impressive personalities to the world.  From the local Detective Sergeant to the Schoolmistress and from the Island Provost to the waitress at a Fish and Chips store, all are distinct, interesting and individual people.  Secrets abound within secrets and there are several secretive movements at odds with one another.  The Nineteenth Century is dying before it really had a chance to enter into the lives of the Island and the twentieth Century is banging on the door loudly demanding entry.  Meanwhile, all involved are still trying to untangle the problems of the Tenth Century.

This book is deceptive.  A reader may expect some descent into barbarism and mumbo-jumbo or a tale of horror and madness.  Instead, one finds people coping with inherited Cultural positions and striving for control (‘Power’ is such a Nasty word) over their lives.  The same conflicts that arose at the very dawn of History are alive and kicking.  People are still only people and lives are taken, altered and enriched by the oddest trifles and strangest events.  Over all there remains the story of Cinderella, told from the viewpoint of the ‘wicked stepmother.’  It is a sharp and cogent tale, not just a case from Late Victorian times, but also a microcosm of large parts of Human History.”

A Case of Witchcraft is available from Amazon, and also in all good formats including Amazon Kindle , Barnes and Noble Nook, and iBooks for the iPad.

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The Bookbag reviews A Case of Witchcraft A Novel of Sherlock Holmes

“Overall, this is a rich and satisfying tale that provides us with a new insight into the most private recesses of the mind of Sherlock Holmes.”

Set in the Northern Isles A Case of Witchcraft has already caused some controversy written as it is by an expert on the occult. The Bookbag really liked the book and gave it a very strong 4 out of 5 stars.

“Revill’s work brings us the Holmes we love very quickly. Instantly recognisable with his usual ascerbic wit and attractive peculiarities, this novel draws in the reader rapidly, and sets up the storyline clearly.

As Holmes embarks on a journey towards the Northern Isles, we are treated to a comprehensive background of the ways of witches all over the world; all points are pertinent and the history is fascinating as well as necessary. The introduction to the ways of witchcraft demonstrates the worldwide links that will become highly significant later. Revill weaves in the relevant history and all its complications with ease, and the novel flows in spite of having to accommodate this.”

You can read the full review at The Bookbag Website.

The book is available from Amazon, and also in all good formats including Amazon Kindle , Barnes and Noble Nook and iBooks for the iPad.

 

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Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews A Case of Witchcraft

“well written and thoroughly researched”

Set in the Northern Isles A Case of Witchcraft has already caused some controversy written as it is by an expert on the occult. Here the Sherlock Holmes Society of London review this debut novel from Joe Revill.

“A Case of Witchcraft by Joe Revill (£12.99/$19.95/€14.99) teams Holmes rather improbably with Aleister Crowley to investigate the disappearance of an eminent folklorist in what’s described as a ‘remote and rather backward northern isle’. The situation is strongly reminiscent of The Wicker Man, but, of course, Holmes is not Sergeant Howie.

His attitude towards the so-called Old Religion, not to mention the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, is remarkably liberal, but perhaps that’s the influence of his companion. A Case of Witchcraft is a decided oddity,but well written (in the third person) and thoroughly researched.”

Joe launches the book at his local Waterstones bookstore in Chesterfield, UK on the 24th September. If you are in the area we advise getting a signed copy – the book is already flying off the shelves in the USA and getting great reviews so signed 1st editions are likely to become nicely collectable. Available from Amazon, and also in all good formats including Amazon Kindle and iBooks for the iPad.

 

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