The Green Man’s Silence – Juliet E McKenna (Spoilers)

The Green Man's Silence - Ben Bova

The Green Man’s Silence is the third book in McKenna’s incredibly popular rural fantasy series featuring Daniel Mackmain, son of a Dryad and a mortal man. In The Green Man’s Foe (review – spoilers) Daniel met and was aided in his battle against a nix by Finele Wicken, a Swan Maiden. Book three opens with Dan travelling to The Fens with Fin at the request of Fin’s mother – although he’s not going for the traditional meet-the-family-of-the-girl-I’m-sleeping-with. Instead, Helen Wicken wants to enlist Dan’s help in establishing what’s upsetting the local hobs and sylphs, who have virtually disappeared from view.

Dan finds his time in and around Ely to be harder than his time at Blithehurst or Brightwell because the Green Man’s conspicuous by his absence – there are very few trees out in the Fens (which makes Dan metaphysically as well as literally uncomfortable). Instead, he has to gain the trust of at least a couple of the hobs and sylphs, and to negotiate with Witta, one of the local nereids (river spirits), to enlist their help in dealing with the all-too-human Doctor Thomas Kelley, who has found himself in the thrall of a Wyrm (one of which Dan first encounters in The Green Man’s Heir). It is Kelley who has upset the hobs and sylphs.

The narrative of The Green Man’s Silence is fast-paced (I read it in a lot less than 24 hours because it was almost impossible to put down!) with lots of action, but it also contains small moments of stillness that I particularly appreciated.

This is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can hardly wait for the next book!

Cover Art: Ben Baldwin. The Green Man’s Silence is published on September 2 by Wizard’s Tower Press from whom I received an eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Pre-order from Amazon UK, Waterstones, Amazon US, Kobo or Barnes and Noble.

The Green Man’s Foe – Juliet E McKenna (Spoilers)

The Green Mans Foe

Last year, Juliet E McKenna published The Green Man’s Heir (Review), which has sold over 10,000 copies in all formats and has twice been chosen for special promotion by Amazon. It is a finalist in the Best Fantasy Novel (Robert Holdstock Award) category of the 2019 British Fantasy Awards. I was not the only person who immediately clamoured for a sequel to this brilliant book, and fortunately its success meant that a second novel featuring Daniel Mackmain, son of a dryad, is out on August 15 (the first day of the 2019 World Science Fiction Convention, as it happens!). I was lucky enough to receive an e-ARC of the book from its publishers, Wizard’s Tower Press, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Daniel is busy at work at Blithehurst, anticipating the start of the season of the house and grounds being open to visitors, when he has a dream about a house where an old man is dying. The dream has been sent by the Green Man, who wants Daniel to go to Brightwell to deal with a particularly nasty individual who has joined forces with a nix, a shape-shifting water spirit that is poisoning the local lake. Aiden has some of the local teenagers in thrall to him, and thinks himself a ceremonial magician of the Aleister Crowley sort. He claims descent from one Mungo Peploe who was responsible for causing a great scandal at Brightwell in the past – Aiden wants some occult books, which the then-owner of Brightwell, Constance Sutton, purchased, and a Hand of Glory, which Aiden thinks will give him even greater powers.

Daniel is invited to become the project manager of Brightwell’s conversion into a hotel, his skills having been recommended by the brother of Eleanor Beauchen, who is a friend of the current owners of Brightwell. Daniel gets Eleanor’s approval before taking the job since it will require him to be absent from his job at  Blithehurst House for three months.

Once there, Daniel finds himself meeting a swan maiden, as well as a couple of locals who are attuned to the supernatural world. Between Finele (Fin) the swan maiden, Rufus Standlake (who is protected by The Hunter in a similar way to Daniel being protected by the Green Man), Daniel, and Sineya (one of the dryads from Blithehurst), they take on both the nix and its disciple, Aiden, and Daniel kills the nix, while Aiden winds up dead as a consequence of defying the Hunter and the Green Man. (Daniel doesn’t kill Aiden – the Hunter ensures he dies in a fire inside his caravan.)

I loved The Green Man’s Heir, and while I expected to thoroughly enjoy The Green Man’s Foe, I did not expect it to be even more satisfying than its forerunner. Which was foolish of me, I admit – I should know by now that McKenna is more capable of outdoing her previous tales in a series.

I very much hope that we’ll see more of Daniel Mackmain in the future modern day urban-rural fantasy very much needs less grimdark and more hopefulness, and McKenna is more than capable of providing that hopefulness.

The Green Man’s Foe is forthcoming this month from Wizard’s Tower Press, and is available to purchase from Amazon and Kobo.

Cover art is by Ben Baldwin.

The Green Man’s Heir – Juliet E McKenna (Spoilers)

The Green Man's Heir

I have been a fan of Juliet McKenna’s works for a long time, and I was delighted when she offered me an e-ARC of her newest book as I had been anticipating it ever since she announced it was coming.

McKenna is best known for her secondary world fantasy series, beginning with The Thief’s Gamble, but she has written short stories set in our world too, including the precursor to this novel (‘The Roots of Aston Quercus’ in The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity). The Green Man’s Heir is a thoroughly engaging, at times almost impossible to put down, tale which, despite its titular character being a man, is peopled with an impressive array of interesting and intriguing women.

Daniel, the eponymous Heir, is the son of a dryad and a human man. He has a talent for woodcarving, a peaceable nature (except around murdering bastards), and peripatetic tendencies. He can see dryads, naiads, and all manner of other supernatural beings, including the Green Man himself.

One day, while looking for fallen wood to use for his carvings, he gets caught up in a police investigation in the local woods after a young woman is found murdered. He soon learns that there is a second dead young woman in the woods, thanks to Tila, the dryad whose home is in that particular wood. He learns that the murderer, a human man, is in thrall to a Wood Wose, and he finds himself pitted against the creature in a fight to the death.

The Wood Wose isn’t Daniel’s worst enemy, however. He learns from Kalei, the local naiad, that there are more dryads at nearby Blithehurst House. The dryads there are kin to Tila, who is murdered at the instigation of the Wose, so Daniel goes to see them, to pass on the news of her passing, and also to see if they can put him in touch with other sons of dryads.

Daniel also meets Eleanor Beauchene at Blithehurst. She runs the house as a tourist attraction on behalf of her family, and like Daniel, she can see dryads and other supernatural creatures. She can also hear things – supernatural creatures such as a wyrmling* that’s lurking underground in the undercroft within the mediaeval manor at Blithehurst. Daniel is forced by events into killing the wyrmling, then into trying to kill the full-grown wyrm that had been making trouble for him in her guise of a human woman, but not before it makes trouble for Eleanor as well.

Daniel is an interesting character – a thoughtful, intelligent man who’s very in tune with Nature thanks to his dryad heritage. He’s also capable, both as a carpenter and a wood-worker, and considerate – a nice example of non-toxic masculinity (something I very much welcome these days). But Daniel’s almost the only really well-fleshed out male character in this novel as McKenna has peopled her tale with a number of interesting female characters: four dryads, one naiad, one Wyrm (who takes on a female human form to cause trouble for Daniel), and one actual female human, Eleanor Beauchene. The latter somewhat reluctantly manages Blithehurst Hall: she’d like to go and do a doctorate in mediaeval history, having already done a degree in the subject, but the dryads won’t agree to it – since she’s the last of the family who can see them, and has ‘greenwood’ blood, they’d rather she settled down and started producing heirs to the estate to ensure that their trees and pastures are properly cared for (rather than, for example, being sold off/cut down for profit). Eventually, after the wyrmling’s been killed and the Wyrm itself has escaped, Daniel and Eleanor come to an arrangement, with the approval of the dryads – he’ll live and work on the estate, and Eleanor will mostly run things remotely while she takes a doctorate at Durham. They don’t immediately jump into bed together – but there’s a possibility they might get together at a later date.

All in all The Green Man’s Heir is a compelling, engaging tale that delves deep into British folklore while being bang up-to-date. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am hoping that there’ll be a sequel.

(*See Lambton Wyrm for more on this particular specimen of British folklore)

The Green Man’s Heir is forthcoming this month from Wizard’s Tower Press. Links for places to buy The Green Man’s Heir can be found here.