I was very happy to receive a review copy of Wychwood by George Mann ahead of its publication this month. I don’t often read crime or mystery books but I really liked the sound of this one, in which we are presented with a murder mystery with a sinister twist…
The opening chapter was a chilling start to what develops into a startling chain of events that take place in the sleepy village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood. After losing her job and splitting from her partner, journalist Elspeth Reeves heads to Wychwood where her mother lives to assess how it all went wrong. Having lost everything in such a short space of time, she is looking to find herself again, and to move on. But it doesn’t take long before disturbing events provide a distraction. When a body is found in the woodland near her mother’s house, Elspeth’s curiosity leads her to delve deeper, to investigate the cryptic symbols left around the body. She recognises these symbols, and is convinced they are from the local myth of the Carrion King, a magician claimed to have wondered the forest. With the help of DS Peter Shaw, a childhood friend with whom she becomes reacquainted, they begin to uncover the truth about the murder, and the long buried secrets concealed in the village and the forest beyond.
One of the things that intrigued me about this book was the use of mythology and the supernatural elements to the mystery. The stories of the Carrion King make for interesting and frightening reading, as events in the village get progressively more sinister. The plot kept my interest as the story started to unravel and the true extent of the disturbing rituals and traditions were revealed. I also liked that it is set in a small village community as there was this sense that everyone knows everyone, and there may be secrets waiting to be revealed that could explain the mysterious deaths. This was a tense and atmospheric novel with the forest setting being particularly eerie with a sense of unease as to what is lurking in the forest and whether the Carrion King is more than just an old myth. But alongside the creepy mystery elements there are also themes of family and relationships with Elspeth reuniting with her mother and with Peter, and with her finding a new lease of life with her journalism as she throws herself into investigating the case. It did make me wonder whether we may see more of Elspeth and Peter in a future book!
Wychwood was an enjoyable mystery novel that combined a classic mystery story with Saxon folklore and a hint of the supernatural. It was published on 12th September 2017 by Titan Books, many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.