Shadows of Faerie by Martin Owton Book Review

Write on: Fri, 08 Jan 2021 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 1565


SHADOWS OF FAERIE by Martin Owton is a modern paranormal mystery story based around the adventures of Charlie Somes. Charlie Somes like Sookie Stackhouse is both a half-fairy as well as a psychic. In his case, he possesses psychometry instead of telepathy. Specifically, he possesses the power to read objects like Jane Doe in the Bright Falls Mysteries or Clive Bruckman in the X-Files. This is wonderful if you want to use him to solve murders and terrible if you want to have a sex life like Charlie does.

After the murder of his roommate, Charlie is dragooned into the service of the British police and must help solve as many murders as his powers will allow him to. The fact that the detective recruiting him is cute doesn't help matters. Unfortunately, it's not too long until poor Charlie runs into a monster from fairyland and he's soon no longer helping with post-mortem investigation. There are many kidnappings happening throughout the British Isles and if humanity were to retaliate, it could be even worse than if they leave it alone. It also doesn't help that the Fair Folk aren't precisely "human" in their thought processes and attempts to negotiate are bound to fail due to their very different way of thinking.

Fairy-based stories are things that can be hit or miss as you must overcome a century of conditioning by the Disney corporation to treat them with the fear and respect that they deserved. On the other hand, it's also easy to turn them into another kind of blood-drinking and while accurate to certain kinds of tales, also misses the full range of possibilities available with them. Martin Owton manages to capture a happy medium where the fairies are both dangerous enough to be threatening but not necessarily something that it shifts over into grimdark territory. When Charlie is ready to meet his father, he's half-ready to meet a god or a monster but ends up just meeting the supernatural equivalent of a himbo after his prime.

I rather like how relatively small-scale the book's stakes are and that actually does more to differentiate the story from many urban fantasy stories like it than anything else. Charles has an extremely useful gift with psychometry and the immediate use of solving murders with it is something that gets brought up immediately. Charlie also wants to help even if it's not exactly a pleasant use of the power for him. I also like that he brings up the sexual downside of having an insight into your partner and their psyche if you don't know them all that well. The last time I saw this brought up was Vibe, which was a Cindy Lauper and Jeff Goldblum movie from the Eighties, and my review is probably the first time it's been mentioned by anyone except for IMDB.

I also like the fact that this takes place in Southhampton and the New Forest rather than London or a larger spot. The series benefits from the fact it's away from the big city and you can believe, albeit with some disbelief, that there's a larger chance oddball occurrences can happen there without anyone noticing. Our protagonist is a university post-graduate and the story doesn't need to expand on his abilities beyond his already incredibly useful investigative one. Really, if I had to choose any single word for the writing style it would be "cozy" and this works extremely well as an afternoon read. Even the romance that develops between Charlie and his co-worker at the police is relatively free of drama and it served as a nice pallet cleanser between darker reads.

In conclusion, I really liked the book and think that readers who enjoy urban fantasy will enjoy it. Easy-reading and reasonable stakes are things I enjoy from Martin Owton's writing. He's very good at creating likable characters and the world is quite believable aside from how fast the police accept he really is a psychic with fairy blood. Trying out this book would be far from a waste of a day's time.

Available here

C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.