Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Ghost of Artemus Strange

The Ghost of Artemus Strange is the 5th Batch Magna book by Peter Maughan. Due out 22nd Aug 2019 from Prelude on their Farrago imprint, it's 320 pages and will be available in ebook and paperback formats.

This is a humorous nostalgic ensemble novel written around the inhabitants of a fictitious village on the border between England and Wales. There are several returning characters, Sir Humph, who's a distant American cousin of a scion branch of the manor family who inherits the baronetcy unexpectedly, his wife Clem, Bill Sikes (a canine), and others.

Despite being the 5th book in the series, it works quite well as a standalone. I had no trouble following the gently meandering plot. There's not a lot of dramatic tension although there's a strange interlude involving the London criminal underclasses in the middle of the book.  Mostly it's a wryly written bucolic village pastiche with (very) eccentric players.

The book is written with British slang and idiom, so readers from elsewhere should be prepared for that. I didn't find it onerous at all; everything is clear from context.  Readers who have enjoyed other nostalgic village pastiches (Miss Read's Fairacre and Thrush Green spring to mind) will most likely enjoy this one as well. It is less openly sarcastic than Watson's Flaxborough chronicles, but still in roughly the same vein.

Four stars. Enjoyable read for fans of British village slice-of-life novels.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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