The Devil in Green

I’ve been reading again, which is just excellent news as far as I’m concerned. Reading is like a litmus test of my state of mind. No idea how long it will last, but I certainly enjoy reading, so we’ll see. It means less EQ time, but I’m not sure that’s so bad. The main problem will be avoiding the ‘must finish just this chapter even though it’s 3am’ syndrome.

It should probably have a name that syndrome. Perhaps it does, but it should have a single word that describes it. Like ‘lating’ or ‘onreading’ or ‘freading’ or something.

book coverAnyway, I wanted something pretty fast paced, reasonably short and by an author I knew I enjoyed to try and pick up the reading bug again, so I picked out Devil in Green by Mark Chadbourn. It’s the first of his second series of real-world-falls-into-myth books, and I really enjoyed the first three. This is what I thought of the first series (The Age of Misrule). The second series (The Dark Age) promises to be just as entertaining.

Once again, Chadbourn returns to the world after the fall, when the borders between our reality and the other realities are breached, and what was myth has now become truth. The story picks up sometime after the events of the first series, with people attempting to deal with the world as it now stands, and in particular with the Church trying to re-assert itself. With the original 5 Brothers and Sisters of dragons ‘indisposed’, Existence is forced to find another group of would-be-heroes.

What follows is a claustrophobic story based on 3 different locations, with a small cast, and a tight focused story arc. There isn’t as much humour as I recall in the first series giving the first book of this series a very bleak and stark feeling to it. This is underpinned by the arrival of a Gormenghast style Gothic structure, which only adds to the bleak enclosed feeling that I’m sure is an intentional part of the story.

Our heroes are flawed, and carry with them their own ghosts, some of which we uncover, and some of which Chadbourn appears to want to hold back from us until perhaps the next book. Mallory is a sarcastic know-it-all who believes in nothing and finds himself fighting to save everything, Miller an innocent believer who needs the Church, and Sophie a hippie-come-witch with a sense of humour to match anything Mallory can come up with. The supporting cast is rich and varied, and deeply British.

Our heroes face a selection of other-worldly dangers, some benign, some overtly evil, and many with the same alien intellect hinted at in the previous books making it impossible to fathom their intent or their feelings for how the Fragile Creature of man should be handled.

The pace is good, and the slow building tension matches the story well. I did find sections of the last two chapters fragmented, and I stumbled through them rather than following the flow of the previous chapters, but it didn’t detract enough to put me off and I’m sure a re-read would smooth out any confusion I was left with.

Overall it’s a good start to the new series, with a bleak feel but just enough heroism and high points to prevent it pulling the reader down into a deep depression. Worth a read, especially if you enjoy your British mythology. Looking forward to the next one, which since the series has been out a little while, we already have upstairs!