Sunday, September 14, 2014

Last of the Albatwitches

This is my first time reading Brian Keene, though I've been aware of his work for some time. Not sure why I never got around to reading any of his books before, but I will certainly be making up for lost time. I've already ordered the other books in the series to which this one belongs, so that should tell you that this is going to be an extremely positive review.
   Albatwitches is the chronologically fourth book in Keenes' series featuring ex-Amish Occult Detective, Levi Stolzfus. The book is actually two novellas, "The Witching Tree' and the titular 'Last of the Albatwitches.'
   In 'The Witching Tree' Levi is called in when a lone tree in an old field apparently starts killing people. The local law enforcement is a little out of their depth and soon Levi finds that he could be in trouble himself.
   In 'Last of the Albatwitches' Levi runs up against an old local legend, something similar to Bigfoot, but smaller, and a lot less friendly. As he digs deeper though, he finds that there's more than meets the eye to what's going on.
   As I said, this was my first Brian Keene book and so my first meeting with Levi. He's a terrific character, with an original and complex background. He's no longer Amish but he still holds to many of his old ways. He's also a mage, a man who practices 'powwow' magic, and uses the book 'The Long Lost Friend' as his primary source of power. I first heard about The Long Lost Friend in the stories of Manly Wade Wellman, The book and the magic behind it figure in some of Wellman's John the Balladeer stories and in some of his other horror stories.
   Keene has gone farther then Wellman though, having Levi use the spells, charms, and protections from the book against all kinds of supernatural menaces. This is, of course, the original, unexpurgated version of the book. Not the one you can get online for your Kindle.
   Brian Keene is a sure hand when it comes to horror and these two novellas are darn scary. They're also fascinating and well written, really some of the best horror I've read this year. You don't have to read the books in order but if you want to, the first is 'Dark Hollow', followed by 'Ghost Walk', 'A Gathering of Crows' and then Albatwitches. Like I said, I've already ordered the others and plan to read a couple during Halloween. Highly recommended.


Fra Moretta said...

I've also started recently to read Keene's work and i was amazed at how good as a storyteller is he. I'm not familiar with Levi Stolzfus but look an intriguing character.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

It's really good stuff. Glad you're digging it too.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Sounds like another wishlist entry. Wait. It's already there! ;)