Title: The Arthurian Omen
Author: G.G. Vandagriff
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Advance Reader's copy of The Arthurian Omen graciously provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
First line: "Brother Gruffyd's old heart trembled with excitement."
Maren Southcott's estranged sister, Rachel, has asked for help locating a manuscript which will prove that the Arthur of legend really existed. Rachel is brutally murdered before Maren arrives and it is left to Maren to continue her sister's work searching the Welsh countryside for a priceless document that someone would kill for. Maren is not alone in her quest and quickly finds herself in a race with academics, antiquities dealers, and Welsh nationalists to be the first to find the document that proves Arthur was more than a legend.
The novel is quite thrilling and the author's familiarity with the Arthurian legend, with its continuing impact on Celtic culture, are strong points of this novel. I was quite drawn to the Welsh countryside and thought it very much a character of the novel. I could feel the ancient history and the misty mossiness of the castles and monasteries. I was so intrigued with the setting that I wanted to delve into the mysteries and the stories that I felt the land itself held. The novel would have been stronger with a deeper storyline connecting the land and legend of Arthur with the plot of the novel.
I felt more connected to the countryside than I did the characters. I wanted to like the characters, but I found the character development shallow and the characters unbelievable and inconsistent: Maren shows a marked lack of good judgement and is very impulsive for a woman who is supposed to be a strong heroine, and Inspector Llewelyn is quite clueless in his role as inspector. None of the characters were drawn in enough depth for me to develop empathy. I believe that an earlier placement of some character history would have helped. For instance, the cause of the estrangement between the sisters is not revealed until quite late in the novel and loses its impact as an empathy device by then.
Despite my inability to empathize with the characters and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the plethora of plot points, I found myself enjoying the novel. It was fast paced with enough suspense to keep me reading to find out who the bad guys were and how the story would end. I must admit that the ending was a surprise.
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Also reviewed at:
Literary Feline (Wendy R.)
Back to Books (Nicola)