Witches of Lychford

Witches of Lychford

Book - 2015
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Villagers in a sleepy hamlet are divided over whether to welcome a major branch of a supermarket to their border. Meanwhile, one woman knows that the destruction of the border could open wide the gateways to malevalent beings beyond imagination -- From back cover.
Publisher: New York : Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2015
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780765385239
Branch Call Number: CORNELL
Characteristics: 144 pages ; 21 cm


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Mar 15, 2018

“Some of your predecessors found a packet of Oat So Simple an intellectual challenge.”

Mar 15, 2018

“Judith realised, with horror, that they were heading over to talk to her, and couldn't find, at a quick glance, anyone else she knew well enough to get into a conversation with. There were, just occasionally, drawbacks to being a nasty old bitch.”

Mar 15, 2018

“Judith hated nostalgia. It was just the waiting room for death.”

Mar 15, 2018

“As Lizzie had seen so many times with victims, the harder your life had been, the harder it was to give yourself room for ethical choices. So were born cycles of abuse.”

Mar 15, 2018

“The telemarketers who called her up now seemed either desperate or resigned to the point of a mindless drone, until Judith, who had time on her hands and ice in her heart, engaged them in dark conversations that always got her removed from their lists.”


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Dec 07, 2017

Withches of Lycheford is the story of a sleepy little English town deeply divided over a proposal to develop a new shopping center. Both sides are generally motivated by conflicting visions of how their town should be branded, with the notable exception of Judith Mawson – town crank and practicing witch. Judith knows the delicate forces preventing evil from overtaking Lycheford and how disruptive something as seemingly innocuous as a shopping center could be. As such, she grudgingly agrees to work alongside an eclectic group of Lycheford misfits to prevent the town from destruction.

At first glance it wasn’t hard to believe that author Paul Cornell has a background in television writing. The story is fast paced, and the climax felt less like a story arch and more like one of multiple story arches that will make up the series’ run. The stakes aren’t terribly high and the resolutions clearly established in a few short pages. Some of the most compelling scenes such as an act of atonement and rectification take place “off-camera”, as if Cornell were afraid of running up the special effects budget or going over his running time.

What surprised me though, was how much of the story was dominated by plot exposition in place of action and dialogue. The story’s protagonist Judith Mawson is established in the first few pages as “the town crank”, simply because Cornell says she’s the crank. She doesn’t snap at the kid who delivers the paper or chase the neighbour’s dog for taking a shit in her garden or pull any of the other stops that make bitter old ladies such a delight to read. This surprised me as Cornell was not only a television writer (on Doctor Who no less) but a respected comic book writer, another medium dominated by dialogue in place of exposition. I can only assume that Cornell was stranded without visual aids to tell his story and substituted action and dialogue with descriptive exposition.

This is a shame for two reasons. First off, it gives the reader little to discover as Cornell comes out and tells us exactly how to perceive each situation. More importantly, it makes for dull reading. The story features a host of interesting characters and it would have been fun to see them interact more with each other. When they finally do begin to work together in the second half there are some genuinely enjoyable exchanges, indicating that this series does have some potential. It’s just a shame that it took approximately half the running time to get there.

To be fair to Cornell, if this were a television series it is clearly the pilot and much of the plot concerns bringing our eclectic group of characters together. They are very diverse but complement each other nicely, making for a second coming of the “Scooby Gang” for any readers starving for a Buffy reboot. Now that they are together he can hopefully have them interact more in successive adventures, and make no mistake, there will be. The story concludes with some shameless sequel baiting inviting us to tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion, and you know what? I just might bite. I know I’ve been hard on this book but I think that if Cornell shifts his focus away from plot exposition in favor of character development, he just might make this series work.

Feb 02, 2017

Had the potential to be far more creepy and suspenseful than it actually was. By the time you reach the end, you are wondering "is this all there is?"

Feb 02, 2016

Short and sweet (and creepy). Would love to see a sequel!

JCLHelenH Dec 30, 2015

Having written for Doctor Who, Wolverine and Batman & Robin, Cornell writes beautifully. This fantastical tale is a perfect blend of witches and politics.

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