Artist Laura Matthews finds her new home in the Welsh mountains to be a place so charged with tales and legends that she is able to reach through the gossamer-fine veil that separates her own world from that of myth and fable.
She and her husband Dan have given up their city life and moved to Blaencwm, an ancient longhouse high in the hills. Here she hopes that the wild beauty will inspire her to produce her best art and will give her the baby they have longed for. But this high valley is also home to others, such as Rhys the charismatic loner who pursues Laura with fervor. And Anwen, the wise old woman from the neighboring farm who seems to know so much but talks in riddles. And then there is Merlin.
Lamp Black, Wolf Grey tells both Laura's story and Merlin's. For once he too walked these hills, with his faithful grey wolf at his heel. It was here he fell in love with Megan, nurse-maid to the children of the hated local noble, Lord Geraint. Merlin was young, at the start of his renowned career as a magician, but when he refuses to help Lord Geraint it is Megan who may pay the price.
In the latest from Paula Brackston, a young artist goes to the Welsh mountains in search of love, but is faced with ancient legends and a mysterious man from the past – Merlin himself.
You can find my reviews of other Paula Brackston novels HERE.
All I have to do is see Paula Brackston’s name on a novel and know that I’m going to love it. Her writing is so rich and engrossing, and as Kirkus Reviews aptly puts it, “full-blooded”. The other books I’ve read by Paula revolve around the lives of female witches, but Lamp Black, Wolf Grey doesn’t have the same ”witch-y” elements as her other novels and instead revolves around a woman in her child-bearing prime and the legendary Merlin.
Growing up, I was obsessed with Arthurian legends and Mary Stuart’s Merlin trilogy was one of my favorites so I was equal parts excited and skeptical going into this novel because of the Merlin aspect. All read and done, LAMP BLACK, WOLF GREY IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PAULA BRACKSTON NOVELS YET.
This one was a page turner. Every time I set the book down, the suspenseful plot called to me like German chocolate cake. I had no choice but to put everything else on hold and dive back in. This book hooked me like the 2000 film What Lies Beneath starring Michelle Pfeiffer. LB,WG has the same delicious elements (ghost story, revenge, romantic suspense, atmospheric, etc.) that left me feeling completely satisfied after reading it.
The Merlin aspect is brilliant. What I feared could turn into something cheesy ended up being something completely creative and clever. I really enjoyed how the legend of this ancient warlock tied into the contemporary aspect of the story.
This was the second book I’ve read of Paula’s that was set in Wales and I absolutely love the magical way she infused the history and folklore of this region into her work. The world building was marvelous as ever; I felt like I was experiencing something far more delightful than a Thomas Kinkade painting every time I read a description of the main character’s surroundings.
I loved the deep and emotionally stirring adult themes concerning conceiving a child and marital issues that the magical realism flourishes around in the story.
Like in The Silver Witch, the author goes back and forth between an ancient and contemporary world to tell the story of two characters who’s lives are mystically linked. Paula really has a knack for this kind of story telling. This is a device that can be confusing and overwhelming at times, but it is pulled off with ease and clarity under Paula’s hand.
To sum things up, LB, WG was: Magical. Hypnotic. Suspenseful. DELICIOUS.
And just for fun….Here’s the trailer to What Lies Beneath. It doesn’t really have anything to do with LB,WG except that this film satisfied me in the same way that Paula’s latest novel did.
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