I've read all of the mysteries in Phil Rickman's Anglican priest/exorcist Merrily Watkins series, worked my way through his earlier horror novels, and read his two paranormal detective novels, written under the pseudonym `Will Kingdom.' All I had left to read were his two Young Adult (YA) fantasies, written under the pen name `Thom Madley.'
The first novel, Marco's Pendulum is centered around the legend of the Holy Grail, which was supposedly brought to Glastonbury, England (the mystic Isle of Avalon) by Joseph of Arimathea.
This sequel concerns the legendary Celtic warrior, Arthur, the Once and Future King, who was purportedly buried in Glastonbury after he was slain by his son (and/or nephew) Mordred.
Marco, age 13 is spending the summer in Glastonbury with his counter-culture grandparents and their donkey, Merlin. His Grandfather Woolly is teaching him how to dowse. Marco, due to his exploits in "Marco's Pendulum," is now a member of the mystical Watchers of Avalon, whose function is to protect their cherished city from paranormal evil. Unfortunately their psychic talents appear to be waning, even though they spend far too much time (according to Marco) fasting and meditating.
Just the opposite is occurring with the local money-grubbing claque of politicians and shady developers, who begin to see visions of UFOs and swords clutched by hands rising out of old wells.
What is going on here? Marco is stunned when Grandpa Woolly starts saying nice things about Glastonbury's greedy, small-minded mayor.
Then his new friend, Rosa accidentally discovers an Iron Age sword while out on a walk with her father. When the sword is stolen and Marco's London friend, Josh shows up and proclaims himself the mystical heir of King Arthur, the Watchers of Avalon need to snap out of their summer doldrums and combat the Evil that is once again threatening to inundate their beloved city.
The 'Marco' novels are my least favorite Rickman novels, perhaps because they were written for a YA audience. Most of characters do not come to life as vividly as they do in his Merrily Watkins procedurals, or his non-series paranormal novels, although Marco and his self-assured, junior-psychiatrist friend, Josh are fun to be around.
Nevertheless, I'm very much looking forward to Rickman's new novel of Glastonbury, "The Bones of Avalon" which is due out in April, 2010.
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