Martin and Rebecca
return to the outskirts of Brocéliande, an enchanted forest in Brittany
where they grew up as children approximately 15 years earlier. They have
returned for the funeral of their mother. Despite being warned to leave
by family and local friends, they stay to settle the estate and take up
residence in their childhood home.
The first two books of Holdstock's 'Ryhope Wood' cycle were a real revelation to me so I've been keeping an eye out for the other parts of the series. 'Merlin's Wood' is the fifth book in the series and takes the story out of England and into France.
We know from the first book that other magical woods exist in other countries and so here we find ourselves in the French equivalent, 'Broceliande', the resting place of Merlin. In the outskirts of the Wood the children of the town have long danced in the ghosts fleeing the wood but for Martin and Rebecca their return to the area brings only heartbreak when their son, born deaf, dumb and blind, begins to slowly suck the life out of his mother as he's consumed by another spirit within the Wood.
This one isn't nearly as successful as the other two. It gets off to a very slow and uninspiring start and despite improving as the story progresses it never seems to quite find it's rhythm. It's a shame as the whole songs and ghosts ideas were really strong but Holdstock just didn't seem to get a firm grip on either his idea or of its telling. Holdstock is generally eminently readable and this one is no different but it never really comes close to hitting the heights of the first two.
Buy it here - Merlin's Wood (Mythago Wood Book 5)
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