Review: The Road To Bedlam by Mike Shevdon
Mike Shevdon The Road To Bedlam
In Mike Shevdon’s debut novel Sixty-One Nails the reader was introduced to a world of what might best be described as urban Faerie, a place of dangerous dark Faerie courts, ancient rituals and secret magical battle. I enjoyed the novel a lot and asked Angry Robot for a copy of the sequel, The Road To Bedlam, which is the subject of this review.
In Sixty-One Nails we were introduced to Niall Dobson, his ex-wife Katharine and his daughter Alex, and also to a variety of Fey, including Blackbird, soon to be Niall’s new partner, and the Fey of the Seven Courts. Some of these Fey, notably Raffmir, Niall’s opponent, appear as main characters in the new novel. Also present are Niall’s new boss Garvin and a number of auxilliary Fey characters.
The plot takes up the story after Niall’s acceptance into the protectorate of the Seven Courts. One of these Courts is absent, and they are composed of the Untainted, Fey who loath Fey/human crosses so much they are prepared to do anything to rid the world of them. At the opening of the novel Alex, who Niall suspects of having latent Fey powers, has been involved in a terrible and mysterious event at her school, whereupon she vanishes. With the pregnant Blackbird at his side and in danger because the child will be one of the hated half-breeds, struggling to cope with Fey teaching, and frantic with worry about his daughter, Niall must balance the opposing motives of loyalty to family and loyalty to the Courts.
Sent away to an obscure corner of England in disguise as a journalist investigating the disappearance of a number of girls, Niall encounters a spooky vicar, a down-to-earth landlady, and his opponents Raffmir and Deefnir as he uncovers the truth of what is going on both in the real and the Fey worlds. There is plenty of action, mystery, and a strange sea-borne ritual which some of the disappeared girls are part of.
Mike Shevdon certainly knows how to write a page-turner. As with his debut, this novel is one where the reader always wants to know what happens next. There are small human mysteries to solve, larger ones in the magical world (including a marvellously eerie scene set in a forest of grasping grasses and vegetation), and much more, as the novel wends its way to a grim conclusion set in a research establishment that in this review I won’t name. The opposing forces of Niall’s worry about Blackbird (who cannot use Fey magic because she is pregnant), his desire to locate Alex, and his loyalty to Garvin and the Fey protectorate are well handled, and the pacing is excellent. An occasional lapse into icky sentimentality at the beginning of the novel doesn’t spoil it, and, while the use of the madmen-aren’t-really-mad theme has been done before, overall this is a terrific novel, a real page-turner and original with it, showing an eye for detail and character that other novelists in this sub-genre rarely have. Highly recommended.
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