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Lamp Black, Wolf Grey
Paula Brackston
Snowbooks, 350 pages

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey
Paula Brackston
Paula Brackston runs creative writing classes and workshops, is a script reader for a film company, and sells her short stories. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. In 2006, she was shortlisted in the Crème de la Crime Search for new writers. She lives half way up a Brecon Beacon with her family.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Book of Shadows

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

As in her first novel, The Book of Shadows, Paula Brackston seamlessly weaves together storylines from today and yesterday. Laura Matthews and her husband, Dan, have bought an ancient longhouse in the Welsh Hills, leaving their London lives behind. Although Dan returns to London for the work week, Laura immerses herself in the wild beauty of the landscape, hoping to do her best painting ever and just maybe the magical nature of the area will help her to conceive the baby she's always wanted. For, in this part of Wales, the veil between reality and legend remains thin, enabling Laura to befriend, Rhys, the friendly reckless man, who pursues her with a fervor as well as Merlin, the seer and prophet, who walks the woods with his grey wolf. And Anwen, an older wise woman who always speaks in riddles and appears out of nowhere.

Yesterday takes place in the 13th century, and is the story of Merlin when he is young and just learning his art, and his love for Megan, nurse-maid to the children of the area's hated nobleman, Lord Geraint. Geraint wants Merlin to work for him, and Merlin refuses. Unfortunately someone else will pay the price.

Laura has a sense of the history in her home and the surrounding hills. Determined to learn about the past, she takes some precarious chances and gets to know as much about herself as the past.

Is magic simply a matter of intent? Is this the same case with legend? So legends are real as long as the stories are told and people believe? These are some of the questions raised in Paula Brackston's compelling and beautiful new work. Action and danger play their roles in this tale, but it's more contemplative and subtle than Brackston's earlier work. Lamp Black, Wolf Grey is more a book to be savored than to be read in a headlong rush to find out what happens next. Brackston has written a story filled with three-dimensional characters, some of whom have flaws, which only serves to make them more realistic. This book fits in a number of categories from historical fiction to paranormal with a spiritual feel, and I recommend it to any fan of medieval historical fiction or someone who wants to read a literary novel with paranormal tendencies. I look forward to reading more from this wonderful writer who always manages to take my breath away.

Copyright © 2010 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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