I love good magical fiction, though there are not very many contemporary writers who produce it. Authors such as Charles deLint, Neil Gaiman, Terri Windling and Patricia Geary stand out from the crowd through their innovative but believable storytelling. And now another name joins them – Cliff Seruntine. Cliff’s first novel, An Ogham Wood (also available on Amazon Kindle) , is a delightful read which builds up slowly, gathering momentum to an epic climax, like a storm in all its glory – wind, rain, thunder and lightning, but for the inner senses of the mind.
The level of detail and loving craft found in the fairy folk in this story is an absolute joy, bringing Celtic folklore to life in a vivid picture of country life largely lost in the modern western world. Although the story is complete in itself, there are enough tales of past glories and tragedies feeding into the weave of the story to allow for any number of sequels and prequels. The fabulous cover by Marc Potts draws the eye and hints at the other realms to be explored within.
The author’s own experience and expertise show through in the flawed hero, Sweyn deSauld, both of sailing and as a successful psychologist. Another reviewer astutely pointed out that this is a story told by a man from a man’s perspective, a definite bonus in this genre where the hero’s perspective is often neglected or disregarded. A line from a song by Canadian band Martha and the Muffins comes to mind with this story – “I think of your past like broken glass, the people who are pieces I still meet”. For Sweyn to step back from the brink to sanity, he has to find and bring together the right broken pieces, and his journey to do so is in the style of epics from days gone by.
For me, An Ogham Wood is the most enjoyable fantasy read I have had for a long time, and in a sign of its quality, leaves me wanting to read the following volumes the author has promised.